Climate experts have found that higher temperatures will lead to more extreme rainfall and more extreme thunderstorms. The research results are published by Nature Reviews Earth & Environment.
A new study from the University of Newcastle, UK, found that rising temperatures are a major driver of the extreme intensity of short-term rainfall, which tends to occur in summer and cause dangerous flash floods in the UK.
The work highlights the need to take action to adapt to climate change, as higher rainfall increases the risk of flash floods and extreme hazardous rainfall worldwide.
An international team of scientists analyzed data from observational, theoretical and model studies. The aim is to study the intensification of extreme rainfall, the causes of these extreme events and the impact on flash floods.
The researchers found that extreme precipitation intensifies with warming, usually at a rate corresponding to an increase in atmospheric humidity. This is to be expected. However, the work also showed that higher temperatures in some regions have a much greater effect on short-term heavy rainfall.
We know that climate change brings us hotter and drier summers and warmer and wetter winters. But in the past, we have struggled to capture the details of extreme rainfall, as it can be highly localized and occur in a matter of hours or even minutes. Thanks to our new research, we now know more about how really heavy rainfall can be affected by climate change. As the warmer air contains more moisture, the intensity of rain increases as the temperature rises.
Professor Fowler of the University of Newcastle
New work shows that the increase in intensity is even greater for short and severe events. This means that localized flash floods are likely to be a more prominent feature of our future climate.