Global warming increases heavy rainfall trends over 30 years

By: | Published: July 8, 2015 5:32 PM

Seems like this year's heavy rainfalls are breaking the records of past 30 years and as per the scientists global warming is to be blamed for it.

Seems like this year’s heavy rainfalls are breaking the records of past 30 years and as per the scientists global warming is to be blamed for it.

While before 1980, multi-decadal fluctuations in extreme rainfall events are explained by natural variability, a team of scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research detected a clear upward trend in the past few decades towards more unprecedented daily rainfall events.

They found the worldwide increase to be consistent with rising global temperatures which are caused by greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.

In 2010, Extreme rainfall in Pakistan caused devastating flooding which killed hundreds and lead to a cholera outbreak.

An advanced statistical analysis of rainfall data from the years 1901 to 2010 derived from thousands of weather stations around the globe shows that over 1980-2010 there were 12 per cent more of these events than expected in a stationary climate, a scenario without global warming.

Author Jascha Lehmann said that due to the upward trend, the worldwide increase of record-breaking daily rainfall events in the very last year of the studied period reached even 26 per cent.

The record-breaking anomaly has distinct patterns across Earth’s continents with generally wet regions seeing an over-proportional increase and drier regions less so. In South East Asian countries the observed increase in record-breaking rainfall events is as high as 56 per cent, in Europe 31 per cent, in the central US 24 per cent.

Co-author Dim Coumou said that one out of ten record-breaking rainfall events observed globally in the past thirty years can only be explained if the long-term warming is taken into account.

Up to now, studies could add up to only medium confidence on how human induced greenhouse gases have contributed to changes in heavy precipitation events at the global and regional scale.

The new analysis now helps to fill this research gap. Building on previous work on extreme precipitation, it is the first to study worldwide observational data of record-breaking daily rainfall events in this context.

Coumou concluded that the pronounced recent increase in record-breaking rainfall events was of course worrying, yet since it was consistent with human-caused global warming, it could also be curbed if greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels were substantially reduced.

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