Tag Archives: Flooding

Noah Movie Part 1 – brewing up a storm

Here we go for another one of my ramblings.  A few months ago a movie based on the story of Noah hit the cinemas, and since then it has kicked up a storm and led to a flood of comments from all sides (OK I promise no more water-based jokes).  With the wave of criticism (sorry – another water joke) I thought I’d add my own thoughts, not so much of the movie but of the story of Noah itself and the comments that have been thrown up, but of the story of Noah itself.  I confess that I started to write this article months ago when the movie was first released.  As I started to look more into the subject it took me longer to work on it and eventually this post fell by the wayside as other things came up.  With the Noah movie being released on DVD I decided that I should really finish this article.  This article will be looking more at the story of Noah, and not so much about the recent movie.  As a little note, I have seen the movie and as a piece of cinema I thought it was OK.  The acting was good, the characters nicely developed and the special effects were of a reasonable quality.  It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s far from the worst.  But it’s not these factors that have caused the outcry from both the Christian and Atheist communities, but rather the story itself.  As a heads up this post is rather lengthy, so you might want to go to the bathroom now, get yourself a drink or light snack, but if you stick with it you will be rewarded with some pictures of cats ;).

The obvious religious connection has been the cause of most of the trouble.  From some atheist circles there has been criticism regarding the religious origins of the movie (for me personally this hasn’t been an issue, I see it as a good bit of story telling nothing more),  but I am aware that there are those who decry anything relating to a religious story being told in mainstream media.  The biggest complaints though are from those people who take the Bible a little literally.  From a number of religious groups the criticism is basically that the story is not true to that recorded in the Bible.  This in turn has led to atheists responding with comments to the effect of “you’re complaining that your made up story is even more made up?”  I have personally found these exchanges to be rather entertaining.  If you want to see some of them, just go on YouTube and search for something like ‘Christian reactions to Noah movie’ and you’ll see what I mean.  There has even been considerable effort made by Creationist websites such as Answers in Genesis to discourage people from seeing the movie and by posting material on their own site explaining how accurate to the Bible story the movie is.

As for me I am an atheist, though born & raised into a Christian family.  By atheist I mean that I do not believe in a god, but I am open to the possibility if sufficient evidence can be presented; this has not happened therefore I don’t believe.  I do own a copy of the Bible (King James version) and unlike most of the  Christians that I know I have read the thing from cover to cover.  The story of Noah is found in Genesis chapters 6-9.  So with this as a background I delve into the muddy world of creationist criticism.

Size of the Ark

This has always been a problem for both believers & none believers alike.  There have been some comments regarding the size, with one creationist claiming it had the capacity of about 500 railroad cars.  This led to a number of atheists crying “rubbish it’s not that big”.  Well of all the issues this is perhaps the easiest to resolve.  The bible measures the ark in cubits; 300x50x30.  The cubit varied in length over time but this leads to the ark being around 137.2×22.9×13.7m.  This gives the ark a volume of about 43,043.8 cubic metres.  The International Union of Railways (UIC) has standard sizes for goods wagons varying between 63 and 131 cubic metres.  Lets take a medium sized, 2 axle car which has a volume of 88 cubic metres.  This gives the ark’s volume of around 489 railroad cars.  So yes in a moment of creationist maths success the volume of the ark is about 500 railroad cars, depending on which size of car you use.

According to Genesis 6:16 the ark had three levels to it.  Could such a thing be built? Well yes & no.  We build ships bigger than this but in metal and there have been a number of people who have recreated arks albeit as tourist attractions rather than sea-going vessels.  Large wooden ships have all sorts of problems.  I refer you to the Wyoming (1909-1927) and the HMS Orlando HMS Mersey (both in 1858)which are amongst the largest wooden ships ever built.  They suffered severe structural problems from the wood warping & bending, seams opening and just a general strain on the wooden hull.  These problems could only be solved with steel & iron reinforcement.  All of these ships were smaller than the ark is suppose to be (by at least 37m).  Beyond the size and what type of wood to use there are no further instructions on how it was built, and as wrought iron working didn’t develop as a technology until at least the 1st Century BCE this lends doubt to the ark being real.  And before anyone asks about copper & bronze being used, these materials are too flexible for the kind of strength needed.  This is why iron swords replaced bronze ones.  Suffice to say it would have been virtually impossible for a an unskilled man to build a wooden boat of this size and have it work in what would be an almighty storm.

The Animals

Now here’s where things get interesting.  The traditional view is that the animals came in two-by-two.  Well this isn’t entirely accurate…welcome to one of the contradictions in the Bible – yes Biblical literalists the Bible is not perfect.  In Genesis 6:19 it says that “two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee”, whilst Genesis 7:2 “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.”  So is it by 2’s only or 7’s and 2’s?  Next comes a second contradiction.  The laws given regarding clean & unclean animals are recorded later in the Bible (Leviticus 11) when God spoke to Moses…an event at least 700 years after the supposed flood.  This gives us two possibilities; 1) God gave Noah a description of which animals were clean & unclean that is not recorded in or has been lost from the Bible; or 2) clean & unclean was a later edition by scribes who altered the text.  Either leads us to one conclusion – the Bible has been altered by later peoples, which makes taking it literally a bit difficult.

Next I’d like to bring up the space for animals.  This is where it has taken me some time to write this post as I’ve been reading up animal sizes.  Here’s a list of some of the larger land mammals currently on the earth, their size and how much space of that 43,000 cubic metres they would take up.

Large mammal sizes 1I hear what you’re about to say “hold on 7 giraffes?”  Now I confess to not being an expert in the Rabbitic traditions & commentaries of the past 2,500 years so there may be an exception here, but I’m just using an English translation of the Bible.  As said the descriptions of clean & unclean animals are in Leviticus 11 and in the case of land animals if it is cloven hoofed and chews the cud (i.e. a ruminant) then it is clean if not then it is unclean.  Well guess what giraffes and the closely related okapi do both so that’s 7 each of them.  I am also aware that I have been using round figures, and that animals are not cuboid shaped.  If you wanted to put smaller animals under the legs, or above the backs of the larger animals you could do so…though I would ask what happens if the larger creature falls asleep or needs to scratch its rump?

Now a number of leading creationists (most notably Ken Ham) have stated that you don’t need to bring on full sized adults and can thus save space.  You could, but I dispute this with 3 points.

1.  The animals will need to have developed the learned skills for survival from their parents, so they can both survive themselves and teach these skills to the next generation.  This will be even more important in a post-flood world where survival will be even harsher.  This means you’ll need older, more experienced individuals.  You will also need animals to be at an age where they do not require their parents to provide the food.

2.  The idea of bringing the animals onto the ark is so that they can be saved to repopulate the Earth.  For this you will need sexually mature individuals, or those that are about to reach sexual maturity.  Some animals do reach reproductive age early on (brown rat 5 weeks) but others take a long time (African elephants 15-20 years).  So you’re taking young elephants onto the ark…they now need to survive in a devastated world for at least a decade before they’ll produce a new elephant.  Not good if you need them to be popping out babies ASAP.

3.  If the ark is to be floating around for about a year then many of the animals will grow and some will reach sexual maturity during the voyage.  Again brown rats, 5 weeks before baby making, leading to at least 10 generations of rats in a year.  This means that regardless of whether you’re taking juvenile or adult individuals on board, there will be adults by the time you land, so you have to accommodate for adults, PLUS the babies they will be making on board.

So out of the 43,000 cubic metres of space in the ark, the 7 large mammals in the table together have used up over 1000 cubic metres already…and that’s just a few large mammals.  I have been working on lists for other animals, and after a several pages of numbers I got board and gave up.  I’ve done tables for both even and odd toed ungulates and I’ve so far reached 4,088.77 cubic metres used for them, plus the 1040 cubic metres of the larger animals for a 5128.82 cubic metres…basically 1 eighth of the space in the ark…and I’m not done.  This is just some of the mammals currently existing, not to mention the masses of fossil animals known.

One of the common creationist counters is that you don’t need a mating pair from every species currently existing, just a pair from each ‘kind’ and then these can reproduce afterwards to create the present number of species.  The first problem with this is one that Bill Nye presented in his debate with Kem Ham in February 2014; the rapid evolution required to go from the number of species on the ark to the number we have now.  One of the major straw-man arguments used by people who don’t understand evolution is that you “never see a dog giving birth to a non-dog”.  This is a story for another time, but that is what would be required if we are to go from what went on the ark to what is around now; animals giving birth to very different species of animals and 100’s of new animals evolving every year.

So you would take on board a mating pair from the dog ‘kind’, another pair from the cat ‘kind’, a pair from the elephant ‘kind’ etc.  Problem is that ‘kind’ is a very ambiguous term.  A general definition is based upon Genesis 1:24-25 where it describes ‘kinds’ as being able to “bring forth” i.e. reproduce with each other.  This is interesting as a similar definition is used to help scientists characterise species; how easily the organism can reproduce with another individual.  The problem is that in the real world of science there is no line in the sand separating species, but instead a rather fuzzy area.  Let’s take the Cat (Felidae) Family as an example.  At this point I would recommend a video by YouTube user AronRa, it’s part of his Falsifying Phylogeny series and is called Foundations of Feliforme Families as he’ll explain it much better than myself.  We all know what a ‘cat’ looks like, but here are some pictures to illustrate my point (most of the images were taken from Wikipedia)

Cats 1

All of these are Felids; we have a Cheetah (top left), a Margay (top right), an African Lion (bottom left), a Bengal Tiger (bottom centre), a Eurasian Lynx (bottom right) and my late Domestic Cat called Poppy (centre).  These are all from the Felid Family, but then their lineages really start to diverge.  The Cheetah is from the genus Acinonyx, the Margay is of the genus Leopardus, the Eurasian Lynx if from the genus Lynx and Poppy was of the genus Felis.  All of these are from the Subfamily Felinae.  None of these cats are able to interbreed with each other (or as the Bible would put it, bring forth after their own kind), yet they are still all cats.  As cats evolved the various groups become genetically isolated over time so that breeding first becomes difficult then unlikely and finally impossible.  In the Subfamily Pantherinae, the Lion and the Tiger are an example of this at an earlier stage.  Their respective lineages separated much more recently, they are even still classed part of the same genus (Panthera leo and Panthera tigris respectively).  Breeding lions & tigers is not unheard of (ligers and tigons), but this is difficult and the hybrid offspring is often (though not always infertile).  Eventually the lion & tigers lines will diverge even further to the point where they can no longer interbreed at all in the same way that they currently can’t with a Cheetah, Margay, Lynx or Domestic Cat.

So why do I bring this up?  Well it means that you can’t just get away with saying Noah only needed to bring one pair of cats on board and from their you’ll get all the variety we see today.  If this was so they should still be able to interbreed with each other to produce fertile offspring.  As it happens they can’t.  This means you’ll need many more ‘kinds’ than is talked about.  And for an extra nail in the coffin of creationist ‘kinds’ in Leviticus 11:21-23 there is made distinctions between different types of “locust after his kind”…in fact at least three different ‘kinds’ of locust.  This would mean that the still rather ambiguous Biblical definition of the unscientific word ‘kind’ is much more like the scientific Species and Genus rather than the Family or Order as some creationists would suggest.

Currently our known species count is around;

  • 1,000,000 insects
  • 100,000 arachnids
  • 47,000  crustaceans
  • 85,000 molluscs
  • 17,000 ringed worms
  • 25,000 nematode worms
  • 16,000 centipedes & millipedes
  • 20,000 flat worms
  • 6,000 sponges
  • around 43,300 other invertabrates
  • 300,000 plants
  • 100,000 fungi
  • 5,500 mammals
  • 9,990 birds
  • 8,700 reptiles
  • 6,500 amphibians
  •  31,000 fishes
  • 25,000 algae
  • 29,000 other protists
  • 10,000 bacteria & archaea

Now not all of these creatures will need to go on the ark.  Let’s forget for the minute that there is a difference between fresh & salt water, and that this means that the various fishes, crustaceans, corals, sponges, whales and all other creatures that live there entire lives in the water will not need a space.  This still means that space must be found for several thousand birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, worms and arachnids, plus several hundred thousand insects, the seeds & spores of four hundred thousand plants and fungi, plus all the food and water for each animal AND their offspring for the time spent on the ark (about a year) and the time spent out of the ark whilst the landscape recovered before grass etc. can grow back.  And this is just for the animals that are alive today, to say nothing of extinct animals.

This brings me to my next point.  Extinct species.  We know that they can’t have been left out as the Flood story in Genesis tells us that God commanded Noah to take male & female from every kind.  This means that not one kind must be left behind, so that means all of the extinct ones too.  Let’s have a look at the Elephants.  Today there are 3 recognized species of elephant; the African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana), the African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) and the Asian Elephant (Elephus maximus).  There are also several recognized subspecies.

Elephants 1

Now you could say “well they’re all of the same kind” and in the case of the two African Elephants that argument might stand, but the Asian Elephant is very much a different species.  Then what about all of the extinct elephants?  Isn’t it just the woolly mammoths and the mastodons? Think again…

Elephants 2

This is just a small sample of the dozens of known genera of extinct elephants.  In clockwise order from top left we have a Stegodon, a Deinotherium, a Dwarf Elephant, a Columbian Mammoth (not quite the same as a Woolly Mammoth), an American Mastodon and a Platybelodon.  Although you could call all of these creatures elephants, many of them lived millions of years apart from each other (Platybelodon being the oldest of the above from about 15mya) and even those living at around the same time where from different geographic areas and looked very different.  So the questions for those that believe in a literal reading of the Flood; which one of them is representative of the elephant ‘kind’?  Which two do you bring with you?  Do you bring all of them?  If only two came along, how did they evolve and reproduce so quickly into the wide variety of elephants that have interactive with humans, to then become extinct so quickly…especially when you consider how long it takes for a baby elephant to reach sexual maturity?  And why don’t we see such rapid evolution of modern elephants?  This starts to lead us to one obvious conclusion.

This brings us to other extinct animals.  When prehistoric life is mentioned people tend to only think of the Dinosaurs, and possibly a few ‘Ice Age’ creatures like mammoths and sabre-toothed cats…but there’s a whole host of other fossils creatures.  Besides around 1000 species of Dinosaur, there are numerous non-Dinosaur creatures that lived at the same time – such as Pterosaurs and Ichthyosaurs (which most people think of as Dinosaurs but aren’t) plus the mass of extinct animals that lived both before and after the Dinosaurs.  Take a look at some of the creatures below.

Extinct Megafauna 1

I’ve taken visuals from the BBC’s Walking with Beasts series as they give a better image of the creatures than a skeleton will.  At the top left we have an Entelodont and a Hyaenodon battling it out, top right there is a Chalicotherium, bottom right are Macrauchenia and the bottom left Doedicurus.  Although the Entelodont is closely related to pigs and the Doedicurus is closely related to armadillos, they are not ancestors of the modern forms.  As for the others they have no living relatives, in fact they don’t even have anything that comes close.  And these are just a couple of examples; a quick internet search will show you exactly how many extinct relatives these five creatures have, to say nothing of the multitude of other extinct creatures.

I know this has been a rather lengthy post and anybody who has managed to read the 3000+ words so far deserves a round of applause.  The reason it is so long has been to emphasise a point; that Noah’s Ark could not have happened, at least not in the way described in the Bible.  Regardless of what people my say in the story’s defence; the Ark was not big enough to include all of the animals in the numbers specified, regardless of what ‘kinds’ may mean.  That’s about all from me today.  I shall return with more information on how to debunk the Flood Myth at another time.  Always keep learning 🙂

References: Wikipedia (I know not always the most reliable source, but it was good for pictures and measurements, plus a it’s a quick way to get general information on the animals mentioned).  The BBC’s Walking with Beasts.  Aronra’s YouTube video’s Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism (a series), and Foundations of Feliforme Families.  The Bible (King James Version).  Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate (you can see this on YouTube).  Answers in Genesis website.

February’s Floods – Ironbridge

With more wet weather having come through the UK I’ve been down the world famous Ironbridge Gorge to have a look at the flooding there.  Here are some of my pictures.

DSCF4815The flood barriers are up and have done there job of protecting this section of the gorge.

DSCF4825This use to be a pub downstream from the Ironbridge.

DSCF4829Nice cycle route…

DSCF4837

DSCF4850This is a good image of the various currents are flowing in the river.  In the centre is the main flow of the river (moving from right to left in this picture).  At the back you can see the strength of the water as hits the tree trunks.  Towards the foreground there are series of eddies and upwellings caused by the uneven bed of the river and changes in volume as it flows past.

 

 

 

Flooding Factors

For several months now the UK has been subjected to a series of floods.  Some areas (such as Somerset) have been flooded for weeks, others have had it come and go several times.  For this post I want to have a quick look at some of the factors that cause flooding.

Coast or River?  It might sound like a daft question, but whether the flood is coming from the sea or a river will determine its characteristics, its causes, the solutions and the aftereffects.  A coastal flood will usually result from a storm surge or a high tide, though other events such as a lowering of the land due to an earthquake can also cause flooding.  A river based flood is usually the result of excessive rainfall, melting snow/ice or the breaching of a dam (natural or artificial).

1. Tides

Moon Orbit & Tides 1

I hate to state the obvious but no the Earth, Moon & Sun in the above diagram are not to scale, neither is the ocean blue for the tides or the distance between the various objects.  The diagram is of my own making, but the images of the Sun, Earth & Moon are from Wikipedia.

It has been know since the days of Issac Newton that the Moon’s gravity forms the tides.  As the Moon moves around the Earth it’s gravity pulls on the water in the ocean (see diagram above).  In addition to the twice daily cycle of high/low tides there is the approximately 29 day Lunar Cycle.  Twice a Lunar Cycle (roughly twice a month) the gravitational forces of the Moon and the Sun line up and create an even larger tide (Spring Tide).  Twice a cycle the Sun’s gravity helps to counteract the Moon’s and we get a lower tide (Neap Tide).  Both of these are offset slightly by other factors such as the rotation of the Earth.  These spring tides can cause serious flooding to coastal areas, especially when it coincides with an extreme weather event such as a storm surge.  This is what happened to the UK in December 2013 as well as the great North Sea flood of 1953.

2. The Weather

OK so this is the obvious one…the more it rains the more likely you are to get a flood.  It’s not just the volume of water that falls from the sky but also the time over which it rains.  Very heavy rain over a few hours can create the quick but devastating flash floods.  More prolonged rainfall creates the slower creeping floods such as those currently covering large areas of the UK.  With the current situation there has been several large storms over the winter, each one adding extra water to the system.  The ground has become saturated and can no longer absorb any more water, resulting in more runoff and thus flooding.  Melting snow and ice can also contribute to this, especially when there is a sudden rise in temperature causing rapid melting.

In addition to rainfall strong winds can create large waves and a storm surge.  A storm surge is formed by the lowering of air pressure under the storm (causing the local sea level to rise slightly) and the constant strength and same direction of the wind blowing over the water surface and generating a much bigger wave than normal.  As this wave-like action moves towards the coast the reducing water depth forces the wave to be higher (basically the same amount of water is trying to fit into a smaller space of sea) and with the strong wind behind it, the water has only one place to go; up and over, flooding the adjacent land.  When combined with high/spring tides this can overwhelm coastal defenses.

3.  Vegetation

Vegetation coverage and the type of vegetation will help control the amount of water that actually hits the ground.  As a general rule the greater the vegetation (and particularly leaf) coverage the greater the chance of the rainfall being intercepted and absorbed by the plants, and thus less will reach the ground.  The water gets caught in dips & depressions in the leaves whilst the roots absorb some of the water at ground level.  A lack of vegetation, or leaf coverage during winter will increase the chances and severity of flooding.  There is an additional danger of mud/landslides from areas that have been deforested as the roots are no longer there to hold the soil together, and any fractures that the roots once occupied will be filled with water instead, destabilising the slope.

4. Soil & Rock Types

When it rains some of the water is absorbed by the soil/rock of the area  (a process called infiltration).  The type of soil and the spaces (fissure & pores) in between the various soil particles will determine how much water can be absorbed by the soil.  Surfaces such as compacted clay and tarmac will absorb less water than something like loose sand and will thus create more run-off.  Linking into vegetation roots open up spaces in the soil (and rock) increasing the amount of water that can flow through it.

As for rock the same principle is true.  Rocks that have large spaces between particles such as sandstones and limestones absorb more water than rocks which have more tightly packed grains.  Some rocks such as granite will absorb almost nothing.  A special note also needs to be made of limestone.  Rain water is naturally slightly acidic (usually around pH 5) and will dissolve limestone & chalk given enough time.  creating underwater channels that will eventually for underwater rivers, lakes & caves.

DSCF4171

Smoo Cave, Durness, NW Scotland

5. Topography & Geomorphology

The shape of the land will ultimately determine where a flood will be.  Rivers will drain a catchment area, with the water flowing down the river channel to the exit point (usually the sea or a lake).  It doesn’t have to rain in lower down the channel for it to flood.  Take a look at the Nile.  Most of the water that feeds the Nile comes from the Ethiopia Highlands, and yet it would flood in the delta in Egypt.  The size of the catchment area is determined by the topography.  Hills & mountain ranges will often provide an edge to this area.  The larger the catchment area, the more rain you will likely gain, but at the same time the larger the river will normally be.  High rain in one part of the catchment area will cause flooding in most areas further down stream.

If many of the smaller streams all converge at the same point and are of a similar length (say if the catchment area/drainage basin is roughly circular in shape), then any excess water will reach that point at the same time, similar to rush hour traffic in the morning & evening.  But instead of congestion you get a higher flood level then if the streams were of different lengths, which would have the excess water reach the meeting point at different times.

The cross-section of the river valley will effect the speed of the flood.  A steeper slope will see the flooding take place sooner after the rain than a gentle slope.  A wider, flatter valley is probably indicative of a wide and active floodplain…even if it hasn’t flooded in decades, geology works on a different timescale to the human memory.  It may sound a little obvious but a floodplain is how a river manages excessive rainfall and it is suppose to flood, so expect flooding.

Another topographical factor is the bottle-neck principle.

River bottle neck 1This is a bit of a simplification, but the above diagram demonstrates it nicely.  If a river encounters an area of resistance (in this case harder rock – but it can also be something like an area of flood defenses with an undefended area upstream.  As the water flows downstream it encounters a narrower stretch with resist material either side.  The water can’t flow through the gap quickly enough, nor can it erode the tougher rock quickly enough.  As a result the water backs up and floods the area upstream of the narrow gap.  This can cause a problem in areas which have some form of solid flood defence, say in the town, which acts as a bottle-neck, the flooding then takes place in the farmland upstream of the town and because of the bottle-neck it can make the flooding worse.

6. Urbanization

As said in the soil section, covering the area in tarmac and concrete will reduce the infiltration & absorption rate.  In addition to this modern drainage systems mean that there is a very efficient removal of rain water from the buildings/road surfaces, resulting in a rapid influx of water from a substantial urban area into a river.  Almost none of it will be absorbed and there will be little to slow it down.  This will increase the chance of flooding.  Combine this with the trend of building on floodplains and you can have a real problem.

Building on a floodplain is just asking for an area of the town to be flooded.  Humans tend to have short memories and people saying things like “well it’s never flooded before, and I’ve lived here all of my life” isn’t going to help.  Most people have only vague memories of their childhood, and just because you don’t remember it happening doesn’t mean it didn’t.  Also the Earth works on a longer time frame and there are certain events that will only happen every century or two, well beyond living memory.  Basically it is a floodplain, it will flood at some point, and so if you build on the land because there hasn’t been a flood in 50 years…you might just get caught out.  The problem is that the population is growing and people need places to live.  Old floodplains are an attractive site because they tend to be flat and require less work before you can build a house on it.  This not only puts people, homes & businesses in harms way, but also changes the ground surface to a less porous one, reduces vegetation and increases runoff from drains etc. all increasing the risk of flooding.

As part of urbanization we try to control rivers with dams, levees and weirs.  These often help to control the river & flooding, but also can lead to a false sense of security.  People will often build close to the levee and if there is a breach the flooding will be rapid and without warning.  There are also dams and reservoirs for non-natural substances and a failure of these will result in a toxic flood, such as the Ajka Alumina plant accident in Hungary on 4th October 2010.

7. Unique & unusual phenomena

Occasionally there are unusual events that cause flooding.  An example would be an earthquake or a volcanic eruption.  Such events will cause phenomena such as tsunamis as the Japanese tsunami of 2011 demonstrated.

800px-SH-60B_helicopter_flies_over_SendaiImage taken from the Wikipedia entry on the Japanese Tsunami 2011.

Earthquakes can also lower the land surface respective to the coast, causing flooding.  Examples of this would be the 2011 Japanese earthquake and the 1964 Alaskan earthquake.

A warming climate and an increased melting of polar/mountain ice will increase the amount of water in neighbouring streams and ultimately the sea.  Any rise in sea level will increase the risk of flooding for coastal areas, combine that with storm surges and tides and you have a lethal outcome.

A special note needs to go to the jökulhlaup, a rare phenomenon that is the result of geothermic heating or a volcanic eruption underneath a glacier.  Iceland tends to be the main sufferer of such events, but the volcano-glacier combination can be found elsewhere.  Basically the eruption melts the base of the glacier very rapidly and the water then escapes underneath the ice to emerge at high speed flooding an wide area downstream.

I hope that this has helped explain some of the major causes of flooding, and the factors that can influence it.  With more rain & wind on the way I think that flooding will be in the public image for a while.  I plan on writing more about flooding and some of the strategies that can be used to manage/control such events.  Until then stay dry.

References: Fundamentals of the Physical Environment (3rd Edition) by P. Smithson, K. Addison & K. Atkinson (2002).  Geology (2nd Edition) by S. Chernicoff (1999).  Environmental Resources by A. S. Mather & K. Chapman (1995).  Global Casino (3rd Edition) by N. Middleton (2003).  As already noted the tsunami picture and the images of Sun, Moon & Earth I got from Wikipedia, as was the checking of a couple of the dates for specific events.

More Images from the Floods

I know my native Shropshire hasn’t been suffering as much as some of the other areas of the UK but I thought I’d post a couple more images.  If I get a chance I will go to some of the other places in the country to record some images of the high waters.  The valley below is of the River Severn just upstream from the Ironbridge Gorge.  I’ve included an image of the valley without flooding as a comparison.

DSCF4490DSCF4792Sorry about the quality of this last image, the strong wind, wind chill and rain must have got to the lens.

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Floods in Shropshire February 2014

Just thought I’d load up some pictures of the recent flooding.  I took these on the 4th February, so it was not the floods at their height, and being in Shropshire we are not as badly hit as other parts of the country.  The pictures were taken at Atcham where the B4380 crosses the River Severn.

DSCF4757Can’t help thinking this Perry Buoy is a bit useless.

DSCF4753The normal course of the River Severn is to the left of this image.  Everything to the right of the central tree is normally field.

DSCF4776The church is fine, just.

DSCF4755If you look carefully in this image you can see the eddies, currents and backflow as the water tries to go around the bridge supports.