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Using remarkability to define coastal flooding thresholds


Coastal flooding is increasingly common in many areas. However, the degree of inundation and associated disruption depend on local topography as well as the distribution of people, infrastructure and economic activity along the coast. Local measures of flooding that are comparable over large areas are difficult to obtain. Here we use the remarkability of flood events, measured by flood-related posts on social media, to estimate county-specific flood thresholds for shoreline counties along the east coast of the United States. While thresholds in most counties are statistically-indistinguishable from minor flood thresholds of nearby tide gauges, we find evidence that several areas experience noticeable flooding at tide heights lower than existing flood thresholds. These 22 counties include several major cities such as Miami, New York, and Boston, with a total population over 13 million. Our analysis implies that large populations might currently be exposed to nuisance flooding not identified via standard measures.

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