Global warming increases “extreme” rain storms
August 7, 2008
Global warming is increasing the incidence of heavy rainfall at a rate greater than predicted by current climate models have predicted, reports a new study published in the journal Science. The findings suggest that storm damage from precipitation could worsen as greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise.
Researchers from the University of Miami and the University of Reading looked at 20 years of satellite observations and found a “distinct link between tropical rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods and decreasing during cold periods,” according to a joint statement.
“A warmer atmosphere contains larger amounts of moisture which boosts the intensity of heavy downpours,” said Dr. Brian J. Soden, associate professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.
While previous models have forecast an increase in heavy rainstorms in response to a warmer climate, the study found that the actual amplification of rainfall extremes was substantially higher than expected.
R.P. Allan and B.J. Soden (2008). Atmospheric Warming and the Amplification of Precipitation Extremes. SCIENCE 8 AUGUST 2008.