Climate Change: Warming temperatures will intensify extreme precipitation

Maximum Daily Precipitation Difference
Maximum Daily Precipitation Difference
Credits: NOAA

According to a newly-published study by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as the globe warms from rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, more moisture in a warmer atmosphere will make the most extreme precipitation events more intense.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the North Carolina State University’s Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-North Carolina (CICS-NC), NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the Desert Research Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and ERT, Inc., reports that the extra moisture due to a warmer atmosphere dominates all other factors and leads to notable increases in the most intense precipitation rates.

“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., senior research professor at CICS-NC and lead author of the paper.