Severe Precipitation Caused by Global Warming

As greenhouses gases in the atmosphere continue to rise, intense precipitation will become even more intense, according to a new NOAA-led study that has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

A team of researchers from North Carolina State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a study that showed the extra moisture that is in the air as a result of global warming will lead to more severe precipitation rates. The study predicts that there will be a 20-30 percent increase in precipitation over the Northern Hemisphere by the end of the 21st century.

“We have high confidence that the most extreme rainfalls will become even more intense, as it is virtually certain that the atmosphere will provide more water to fuel these events,” said Kenneth Kunkel, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

The researchers studied moisture in the atmosphere, horizontal winds, and upward motion of air in the atmosphere in order to find their results, which could help in modeling the risks due to extreme precipitation amounts. “Findings of this study, and others like it, could lead to new information for engineers and developers that will save lives and major infrastructure investments,” said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D., co-author on the paper.