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Floods

  • By: Burrell Montz & Graham A. Tobin
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Floods occur when streams and rivers overflow their banks and inundate the adjacent lands, called floodplains. In other instances, localized flooding occurs when drains cannot cope with heavy rainfall and along shorelines from sea surges that can be wind driven or associated with storms. Since all rivers flood and human activities frequently take place on the relatively flat flood-plains, the consequences of flooding can be disastrous. Thus, the simple definition of flooding belies a complex of causal mechanisms that involve physical processes of the natural environment and social, economic, and political forces operating in the human environment. It is these factors in combination that determine the magnitude, severity, and ultimately the impacts of flooding. Thus, globally, floods are the most widely experienced natural disaster, causing ...

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