Major cities are flooding more than was previously thought. This news comes from a new study published in the journal Nature Communications that used Twitter to measure the impact of tidal flooding along the U.S. Gulf and East coasts. The data show that flooding happens more frequently in some areas than what current flood monitoring tech has been able to detect.
The study analyzed data from 473,000 tweets sent by more than 5 million Twitter users from at least 273 different counties. With the data, researches were able to see a trend in which 22 counties had flooding at tide heights lower than the areas’ existing flood thresholds. Miami, Boston, and New York were among the large cities that were mentioned in the study. These were identified as locations that have been seeing nuisance flooding that has often gone undetected by tide gauges.
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) February 10, 2020
Something else the study found was that much of the Texas Gulf coast has also been flooding more frequently than local tide gauges reflected.
The data in question were tweets that had geolocations embedded. If you have ever tagged a location in a tweet, that is an example of geolocation tagging. The tweets range in date from March 2014 through November 2016. The researchers gathered these tweets by doing searches on any post containing at least one word or phrase identified as possibly referring to flood events. The data was then combined with tide gauge data on maximum daily tide height from active tidal gauge stations along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The authors of the study also wanted to express caution that Twitter is just a small part of the general population and the data could be less effective one day. However, including social media in these types of studies can help to identify previously unseen information and could help technologies develop faster and better to the point that unexpected disasters could be prevented — that’s something to hope for.
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