Torrential rain in forecast as Earth warms

Photo by Kevin Dooley

Umbrellas and galoshes will be year-round gear in some places as global temperatures rise. A joint study from the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Wisconsin predicts the total amount of rainfall worldwide could rise anywhere from hundreds of percent to greater than 1,000 percent by the end of the century. The study, published in “Nature” Feb. 2, is based on a global temperature rise of 3°C (5.4°F) at century’s end.

As atmospheric temperatures increase, the amount of moisture in the air rises, too. So as the Earth’s atmosphere warms rainfall totals could be hitting record marks in short order.

Yearly rainfall totals are a result of three factors: how often it rains, how long each rain event lasts, and how hard it rains each time.

Climate researchers estimate that by the end of the century the number of rain days worldwide will increase by 20 percent, and the amount of rainfall per rain day will rise by 10 percent.

The study also predicts that more high-rain events will occur, with a potential for a quicker turn-around for other high-rain events.

The ability of human societies and species worldwide to adapt with the suddenness and immensity of this climate change is hard to imagine. Sadly, it may not be the heat but the humidity that gets to us.



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