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Can AI predict the next big flood before it happens?

The COVID College Experience: Building Resilience, Finding Structure And Maintaining Connection

The COVID-19 experience represents a traumatic experience for everyone. The combination of stressors seems limitless, and includes fear of contracting the virus, actually testing positive or spending time in the ICU, losing a loved one, losing a job, or enduring the intensity of a shift on the frontlines as an essential worker – just to name a few. As one CNBC article explained in late March, citing trauma psychologists, “the COVID-19 crisis has combined mental health stressors that have been studied before in other disasters, but which have never been seen consolidated in one global crisis.” There is no question that the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic will alter virtually everyone’s future to some degree. However, one population – the current generation of students – is facing the pandemic at a particularly critical stage of development. The unique emotional and mental health fallout of COVID-19 on university students – and their parents – is only just starting to be realized…

 

Can AI predict the next big flood before it happens?

Agnes_1972_rainfall

Even bodies of water far from an ocean shore are not immune to devastating floods Image: A total rainfall map of Hurricane Agnes, 1972, covering the entire eastern seaboard.

It’s hard to grow up in the northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley without knowing the details of the ’72 flood by heart. The water was so strong it uprooted a section of the historical Forty Fort cemetery at its bend, leaving caskets floating in the streets and body parts on porches and in basements. To this day, my mother describes what it was like to be chased from her home when the Susquehanna River rushed through narrow, city streets.

Over 220,000 people were left stunned and homeless for years.

Climate change is creating more intense hurricanes to form. In turn, they bring more intense weather events on shore, increasing the likelihood that rivers will experience more precipitation than they can handle. Hurricane Agnes, the Atlantic hurricane that caused the ’72 flood, stalled over Pennsylvania as a Tropical Storm and dumped over 12 inches of rain on Harrisburg, a the capital city along the Susquehanna River in less than 24 hours. Hurricane Agnes, the Atlantic hurricane that caused the ’72 flood, stalled over Pennsylvania as a Tropical Storm and dumped over 15 inches of rain in and around the Wyoming Valley.

 

A total rainfall map of Hurricane Agnes, 1972, covering the entire eastern seaboard.

In an article published last year in Scientific Reports, a collaboration of scientists from around the United States present the first use of machine learning to identify atmospheric circulation patterns associated with extreme river floods, such as the flood of ’72. The scientists, Katherine Schlef, Hamid Moradkhani, and Upmanu Lall hope that this technology will allow them to better understand what causes extreme floods on a continental…

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