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Currently, half of the world's measured precipitation that falls in a year falls in just 12 days, according to a new analysis of data collected at weather stations across the globe.
By century's end, climate models project that this lopsided distribution of rain and snow is likely to become even more skewed, with half of annual precipitation falling in 11 days.
Results - Geophysical - Research - Letters - Journal
These results are published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Previous studies have shown that we can expect both an increase in extreme weather events and a smaller increase in average annual precipitation in the future as the climate warms, but researchers are still exploring the relationship between those two trends.
Study - Pieces - Angeline - Pendergrass - Scientist
"This study shows how those two pieces fit together," said Angeline Pendergrass, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the lead author of the new study. "What we found is that the expected increases happen when it's already the wettest—the rainiest days get rainier."
The findings, which suggest that flooding and the damage associated with it could also increase, have implications for water managers, urban planners, and emergency responders. The research results are also a concern for agriculture, which is more productive when rainfall is spread more evenly over the growing season.
Research - US - Department - Energy - National
The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR's sponsor.
Scientists who study extreme precipitation—and how such events may change in the future—have used a variety of metrics to define what qualifies as "extreme." Pendergrass noticed that in some cases the definitions were so broad that extreme precipitation events actually included the bulk of all precipitation.
Instances - Precipitation - Precipitation - Thing - Scientists
In those instances, "extreme precipitation" and "average precipitation" became essentially the same thing, making it difficult for scientists to understand from existing studies how the two would change independently as...
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