AGU releases new report on the impacts of extreme weather and flooding

Report provides solutions, empowers communities across the country to address flooding

24 September 2019

WASHINGTON–The American Geophysical Union (AGU) today released Surging Waters: Science Empowering Communities in the Face of Flooding. This report, reviewed by leading experts, takes the imminent issue of flooding and demonstrates how science is integral to solutions that will mitigate destructive impacts on people and property in the future.

Through local stories, the report’s authors highlight three types of flooding, as well as the science and scientists that are helping to address each: flooding due to hurricanes, floods in the central U.S., and coastal flooding.

Across the U.S., an estimated 40 million people have a 25 percent chance that their home will flood before they can pay off a 30-year mortgage. Cumulatively, these floods pose a costly, deadly problem for the U.S. Hurricanes cost the U.S. economy an estimated $54 billion annually. Flash flooding along rivers and streams is the second leading cause of death in the nation from extreme weather. Coastal flooding tied to rising sea levels is increasing and, even with clear skies on a sunny day, puts communities and key military installations in jeopardy. No state in the country is spared from the impact of flooding.

“The increased recurrence and severity of flooding demands that we take a new look at the issue on a local, state, and national level. Flooding is a health and economic crisis we cannot ignore,” said AGU Executive Director/CEO Chris McEntee. “We need scientists to conduct the flooding research and collect the data to help reduce the devastating consequences for our economic and community health.”

Surging Waters closes with recommendations to drive home the need for scientific collaboration and financial support for science. Addressing the complex challenges posed by flooding and extreme weather nationwide will take various partners working in collaboration at multiple levels. Science and scientists are a key element of these solutions, but they need the economic support from federal and local governments, and in turn, they must be relevant to, accessible to, and engaged with communities.

The key to solutions will be to:

  • Empower communities to make informed decisions about their future;
  • Empower scientists to conduct robust scientific research and data collection about flooding and its related issues; and
  • Prioritize partnerships that foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and better communication among scientists who study both the physical world and human behavior, and between scientists and communities.

McEntee added, “It is essential that science, with support from policy makers, be fully funded to inspire readiness, cultivate collaboration, and empower communities to make informed decisions about their future. Scientists can promote research across disciplines, including social scientists, and work with community members to build a more resilient society.”

The full Surging Waters report and state-specific resources are available online at


Founded in 1919, AGU is a not-for-profit scientific society dedicated to advancing Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity. We support 60,000 members, who reside in 135 countries, as well as our broader community, through high-quality scholarly publications, dynamic meetings, our dedication to science policy and science communications, and our commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as many other innovative programs. AGU is home to the award-winning news publication Eos, the Thriving Earth Exchange, where scientists and community leaders work together to tackle local issues, and a headquarters building that represents Washington, D.C.’s first net zero energy commercial renovation. We are celebrating our Centennial in 2019. #AGU100

AGU Contact:

Katherine Broendel
+1 (202) 777-7459
[email protected]