Reuters

Some species are much more absorbent than others, according to new research.

With half of Grand Rapids underwater, it's time for America's annual spring discussion about flood prevention.

It's well known that sprawling asphalt cities turn whole areas into the flooding equivalent of Antelope Canyon, requiring cities to greatly expand storm drain capacity for even moderate storms and putting houses underwater during the worst events. It's simple: concrete doesn't absorb water; grass, shrubs and trees do.

When it comes to grass, though, not all species are created equal. In a paper published on Thursday in Scientific Reports, researchers at three British universities have announced the development of a hybrid grass that is significantly more absorbent than its peers.

The new species, which they are calling Festulolium (it's Lolium perenne, or perennial ryegrass, plus Festuca pratensis, or meadow fescue), decreases runoff by as much as 51 percent more than ryegrass does. Ryegrass grows quickly and easily, while meadow fescue has strong root systems and good water retention. Festulolium is the best of both worlds.

Plus, it's tasty -- ryegrass is a traditional staple for farmers, but if they were growing Festulolium instead, their urban neighbors might be very grateful.

Top image: Fescue (foreground) and ryegrass (background) on the golf course of Pinehurst Resort, North Carolina. Reuters.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    Who’s Really Buying Property in San Francisco?

    A lot of software developers, according to an unprecedented new analysis.

  2. A large crowd packs Independence Mall, with Philadelphia buildings in the background.
    Environment

    What Happened to Earth Day?

    In the beginning, it was a policy-shaking event that awakened a new generation of activists. But now even environmentalists have misgivings about it.

  3. A toddler breathes from a nebulizer while sitting in a crib.
    Environment

    How Scientists Discovered What Dirty Air Does to Kids’ Health

    The landmark Children’s Health Study tracked thousands of children in California over many years—and transformed our understanding of air pollution’s harms.

  4. A map of Baltimore and its surrounding leafy suburbs.
    Environment

    Every Tree in the City, Mapped

    Researchers at Descartes Labs are using artificial intelligence to make a better map of the urban tree canopy.

  5. Maria Romano stands behind one of her three children, Jennifer, 10, as she gets something to eat in their Harlem apartment in New York Thursday, June 3, 2005
    Equity

    Why HUD Wants to Restrict Assistance for Immigrants

    A proposal by Ben Carson’s agency would eject immigrant families from public housing to make way for the "most vulnerable." Housing advocates aren't buying it.