Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface Research Spotlight Extreme Rainfall Statistics May Shift as U.S. Climate Warms Precipitation data and high-resolution modeling suggest that extreme rainfall events under a changing climate will be shorter, more intense, and more widely spread out. Rainfall extremes that could cause flooding are likely to occur more often in the United States as global temperatures rise, new research confirms. Credit: David Geitgey Sierralupe , CC BY 2.0 As the Earth warms, extreme rainfall events are intensifying , thanks in part to the fundamental thermodynamic properties of air . This intensification will likely affect ecosystems and flooding around the world. However, to prepare for it, communities need a clearer understanding of how the timing, duration, and intensity of rainfall extremes will change. A new study by Moustakis et al. presents a comprehensive assessment of future changes in the statistics of rainfall extremes across the contiguous United States, confirming that extreme events are likely to intensify, and their duration and seasonal timing will shift. The analysis draws on hourly precipitation data from 3,119 rainfall stations, as well as from high-resolution climate model simulations that are capable of predicting hourly rainfall at a spatial scale of about 4 kilometers. These simulations operate under a scenario in which global greenhouse gas emissions remain high throughout the 21st century. The results of the study suggest that rainfall extremes will occur more often; on average, what is now a 20-year rainfall event will become a 7-year event across much of the country. Extreme events will also become more intense, with the greatest intensification predicted to occur in the western United States, the Pacific Coast, and the East Coast. The study also predicts that rainfall extremes will occur more evenly over the course of the year, with the biggest seasonal changes happening in the plains, the Northern Rockies, and the prairies. Meanwhile, the duration of extreme rainfall events is predicted to shorten, with the Pacific Coast experiencing the biggest decrease. These changes could affect the ability of vegetation and soils to absorb water, thus affecting flood risk. Further observations and model improvements will be needed to refine these predictions, the authors say. Nonetheless, these takeaways from the study could help inform efforts to prepare for future rainfall extremes. (Earth’s Future, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EF001824 , 2021) Citation: Stanley, S. (2021), Extreme rainfall statistics may shift as U.S. climate warms, Eos, 102, https://doi.org/10.1029/2021EO157038 . Published on 12 April 2021.https://eos.org/research-spotlights/extreme-rainfall-statistics-may-shift-as-u-s-climate-warms
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Kerry traveled to Europe last month to meet with allies in London, Brussels and Paris, in hopes of forging a coalition that could push other nations to move more quickly. His trip this week includes stops in India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates. He also plans to visit China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, at a later date. The travel is a way to convey the Biden administration’s sense of urgency about the problem and the president’s determination to renew relationships ahead of the global gathering in Glasgow in November. India is reporting record numbers of coronavirus cases , but Kerry is spending three full days in the country consulting with political leaders, business executives and entrepreneurs. Meeting people in person allows “greater ease in the give and take,” he said in the interview. It also gives the ability to pull someone aside and “whisper in their ear” something “you don’t want other people necessarily to hear.” India is a crucial player in the fight to curb global emissions . It is the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and such emissions are expected to grow rapidly as incomes and energy consumption rise in a nation of more than 1.3 billion people. It is one of few nations on track to meet its commitments under the Paris accord, Kerry noted. The Indian government has set a goal of installing 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030. If India makes progress toward that target, Kerry said, it will automatically pull the country away from some of its dependency on fossil fuels. India isn’t “using coal because they like coal or they’re oblivious to the impact,” Kerry said. “If they can find a way to finance an alternative, they’ll leap at it.” Still, like in the United States and virtually every other major economy, change is not happening quickly enough. Climate Action Tracker, an independent group that analyzes what cuts countries have vowed to take and how they are living up to those promises, said India is doing its “fair share,” based on historical responsibility for the problem and its current capabilities. Countries must ramp up climate pledges by 80 percent to hit key Paris target, study finds But its efforts, the group said, are “not consistent with the Paris Agreement, and domestic emissions need to peak and start reducing, including with international support.” It added that although the coronavirus pandemic has provided India with a chance to “accelerate a transition away from coal to renewable energy,” there are “no clear signs that India is company website seizing that opportunity.” “While no new coal power stations have been from this source built in 2020, the government is encouraging more coal mining and increased coal production which is not consistent with a green recovery,” the group wrote in an analysis , saying India must develop a strategy to phase out coal for power generation before 2040. Kerry met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week and praised his determination to move India in the right direction. “He’s deeply invested in this,” both as an expression of spiritual and personal values, Kerry said in the interview. A right-leaning Hindu nationalist leader, Modi has publicly embraced the fight against climate change. The push also aligns with other objectives of his government such as promoting energy independence and reducing air pollution. At the same time, Modi has a “tough hand to play,” Kerry acknowledged.https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/04/08/kerry-earth-day-climate-change/