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Global Water Cycle Intensifying With Changing Climate, Study Says

Storm clouds

The global cycle of rainfall and evaporation over the oceans accelerated by 4 percent in the second half of the twentieth century because of global warming, a new study published in the journal Science suggests.

Further, this could be a signal that more extreme weather is on the way in coming decades, as scientists have already projected (see James Hansen Warms ‘Climate Dice’ Loaded For Extreme Weather Events).

Researchers from California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found in an analysis of the oceans, from 1950 through 2000, that they have been getting progressively more salty in the salty areas. The fresher areas of water in the oceans have also be getting fresher. This is thought to be because there are now stronger patterns of evaporation and precipitation over the oceans.

The study indicates that even a 1 degree rise in average global temperatures over the period has been enough to intensify the water cycle by 4 percent. The research suggests that if global temperature continue to rise in line with climate science projections, the water cycle could intensify by as much as 20 percent by 2100.

Therefore, the areas that already experience a lot of rain will experience a lot more, and areas that are susceptible to drought now, are liable to be even drier.

As the study’s lead author Paul J. Durack has said, this is yet more independent evidence that the world needs to start taking climate change more seriously.

If we are already starting to experience more extreme weather now, at a 4 percent increase in intensity, imagine what it would be like at 20 percent. Let’s hope the world doesn’t have to find out.

Via Yale E360
Image CC licensed by Blair Stirrett: storm clouds over the ocean

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