The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change most recent report notes that both droughts and torrential rains are getting worse as predicted under continued climate change. It makes physical sense, too, reports Michael Lemonick at Climate Central. A warmer atmosphere can absorb more water vapor, and what goes up must come down — and thanks to prevailing winds, it won’t come down in the same place. According to a new paper published in the journal Science, however, US and Australian researchers have concluded that the water cycle is intensifying about twice as fast as anyone thought, and that could mean big trouble for places like Australia, which has already been experiencing crushing drought in recent years. The study is based on measurements gathered around the world from 1950-2000, but unlike previous studies that relied on land rainfall data, it focused on where most weather occurs – over the oceans, using salinity measurements of surface waters. Saltier waters indicate less rain, because the sun evaporates water, leaving salt behind; the opposite is true for rainy areas. As expected, saltier seas surround drought stricken lands. Once again, real climate change is outpacing human predictions.
Climate change has intensified the global water cycle. Climate scientists have said for years that a warming planet makes both droughts and torrential rains worse. A new study finds that is happening twice as fast as anyone thought – big trouble for places like Australia, which has already seen crushing drought in recent years. Climate Central