Warmer climates lead to more powerful rainstorms

August 8th, 2008 - 1:43 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, August 8 (ANI): A new study has indicated that warmer climates caused by global warming leads to more powerful rainstorms.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Miami in the US and the University of Reading in the UK, provides the first observational evidence to confirm the link between a warmer climate and extreme rainstorms.

More intense rain events increase the risk of flooding and can have substantial societal and economic impacts.

To understand how precipitation responds to a warmer climate, researchers in this study used naturally-driven changes associated with El Nino as a laboratory for testing their hypotheses.

Based on 20 years of satellite observations, they found a distinct link between tropical rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods and decreasing during cold periods.

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.

The report, titled Atmospheric Warming and the Amplification of Precipitation Extremes, found that both observations and models indicated an increase in heavy rainstorms in response to a warmer climate.

However, the observed amplification of rainfall extremes was found to be substantially larger in the observations than what is predicted by current models.

Comparing observations with results from computer models improves understanding of how rainfall responds to a warming world, said Dr. Richard P. Allan, NERC advance fellow at the University of Readings Environmental Systems Science Centre.

Differences can relate to deficiencies in the measurements, or the models used to predict future climatic change, he added. (ANI)

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