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NOAA Scientists Looking At Link Between Flooding And Climate Change

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CBS4's Shaun Boyd talks with scienttist Klaus Wolter with the NOAA (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd talks with scienttist Klaus Wolter with the NOAA (credit: CBS)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A United Nation’s panel on climate change says the changes can be blamed on human activity.

Top scientists from around the world say people are mostly to blame for rising temperatures since 1951. Some of the best weather and climate scientists in the world are based at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder.

It’s ironic and convenient they are located in Boulder where the flood did some of its worst damage. They are analyzing all the data to determine whether this is truly the 100-year flood or brought on by climate change.

When the rain started Sept. 1 even the best scientific minds didn’t see what was coming.

“I thought maybe 2 inches, maybe 4 inches,” said Klaus Wolter, a CIRES scientist at NOAA.

Wolter lives 3 miles above Jamestown. He drove through the town just 3 hours before the flood hit.

“It’s very pleasant to fall asleep with the rain pattering on the roof and then we had this ugly awakening Thursday morning,” he said.

Every researcher is trying to figure out what happened and what role climate change may have played. It’s too early to know.

“This is the $64 billion question. We have certainly observed that in the last couple of years, not just in the U.S., but globally, we have had an increase in these events, but again the link to climate change is uncertain,” Wolter said.

What he does know is Colorado has seen the same weather pattern before. Weather data from 1938 — the year of another devastating flood — is very similar.

“Mother Nature has it up its sleeve. The more tricky question is, are we going to see more of that? I really think in my lifetime it could happen again,” he said.

Wolter said he hopes the next time it happens it’s winter and Colorado gets snow and not floods and mudslides. He said it looks good for an early ski season.

On Thursday Wolter received an award from the governor’s office for his research on drought. He said floods and droughts often follow each other.

Colorado Floods: How To Help

The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.

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