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Climate Change Could Increase the Risk of Extreme Rainfall

Dec 06, 2016 04:11 AM EST
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A new study revealed that future climate could exacerbate hourly precipitation, driving up to 180 percent increase of extreme summer rainfall in some parts of the United States by 2100.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed that high humidity, or the amount of moisture in the air, combined with the rising temperatures could increase the frequencies of extreme precipitations.

"We expect that intense rainfall extremes will get more frequent and more intense in the future climate because if we warm up the atmosphere, air can hold more moisture," explained Andreas Prein, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and lead author of the study, in a report from Washington Post. "What we were interested in is how these kinds of storms might change in the future."

For the study, the researchers used high-resolution computer simulation. This sophisticated simulation is up to 25 times better than previous climate models. Their simulation projects that the Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast and Southwest will experience up to five times increase in downpour.

The researchers observed that future climate change will make many parts of the nation will be warmer and wetter. Under warmer temperatures, clouds can hold more water, leading to larger downpours.

As a result of this, many of the states would experience both increase in frequency and intensity of rainfall. On average, the researchers believe that extreme precipitation events will become nearly three times more likely. At most, the frequency of these heavy downpours may increase up to five times.

Aside from the increase in frequencies, the researchers also warned about the potential increase in the amount of precipitation produced by a single downpour. Their models predict about 70 percent increase in the precipitation produced by the downpour.

With their findings, the researchers noted that their projections are not definite forecasts. However, their results should serve as a warning on what could happen in the future as climate change continue to occur.

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