Global warming brings severe rainstorms

Posted by Kate Taylor

Extreme rainfall events are becoming more and more commmon across the globe as climate change brings higher temperatures, researchers say.

The University of Adelaide team looked at extreme rainfall and atmospheric temperatures at more than 8,000 weather gauging stations around the world between 1900 and 2009.

"The results are that rainfall extremes are increasing on average globally. They show that there is a seven percent increase in extreme rainfall intensity for every degree increase in global atmospheric temperature," says Dr Seth Westra.

"Assuming an increase in global average temperature by three to five degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, this could mean very substantial increases in rainfall intensity as a result of climate change."

Most weather gauging stations showed some increase in extreme rainfall over the period, with the greatest rise seen in tropical countries.

"Most of these tropical countries are very poor and thus not well placed to adapt to the increased risk of flooding, which puts them in a larger threat of devastation," says Westra.

"If extreme rainfall events continue to intensify, we can expect to see floods occurring more frequently around the world."