You know the saying — “When it rains, it pours.” However, this may actually be the future normal rather than a simple idiom. A recent report suggests extreme rain storms which occur on average once a season may increase 400% by century’s end.
The study, published in the Nature Climate Change journal, said storms could increase by 5 times in a season within this century.
Climate Central noted that the study concluded these types of intense rainfalls could create 70% more rainfall. For example, 2 inches of rainfall now would equate to 3.5 inches by the end of this century.
Study co-author Andreas Prein from Boulder Colorado’s National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) said extreme downpours are one of the top concerns with climate change. As temperatures from greenhouse gases increase and accumulate, this will increase moisture in the air. As moisture increases, so does heavier rainstorms.
Furthermore, these types of rainfall events are on the rise, including a 71% increase in the Northeastern US.
“We see this in the real climate already. It will only intensify,” Prein said.
To get a better understanding of future US rain patterns due to climate change, NCAR used a high-resolution model based over one year, which provides better and accurate information for researchers to analyze.
This model showed the lower 48 states would see an increase in extreme rainfalls if greenhouse gases continue inching up as they are. Areas with lots of moisture near oceans (specifically the Atlantic and Gulf coasts) would see both the largest rainfall amounts and frequency increases.
Even more interesting is the central US. With increasing temperatures, it’s expected to create drier conditions along with evaporating soil. The central US, according to analysis, is expected to see less average rainstorms and more extreme storms. Flash flooding incidents could create more headaches, similar to 2013 Colorado flash flooding.
This report has impacts for policymakers. First, government officials will need to understand the importance of building infrastructure that’s resistant to severe rainfall, including facilities to store storm runoff in both urban and rural areas.
Second, there are simply increased costs with extreme rainfall events. The Louisiana rainfall catastrophe cost over $8 billion. Extreme weather event costs are something policymakers are becoming more concerned about. In recent years, reports have concluded climate change — when left unchecked — will have a negative economic impact.
Third, changes in rainfall patterns will have dramatic impacts on crops. With less standard rainfall patterns and more extreme rainfall, this would damage crops and raise food prices.
Ongoing reports like this one published in Nature Climate Change only make a stronger case for transitioning to a clean energy economy and moving away from fossil fuels. This includes ramping up wind energy, solar energy, and electric vehicles.
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