Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rainfall clumped into lengthier, intense periods across Europe

Phillip F. Schewe of the Inside Science News Service in …A new study of rainfall in Europe over the period 1950-2008 finds that although the yearly number of rainy days has not increased, the length of wet spells — periods in which rain falls on a number of consecutive days — has gone up by about 15-20 percent.

Many scientists believe that the side effects of human technology, especially the extra carbon dioxide it adds to the atmosphere, are driving climate change more than the natural fluctuations that occur all the time. A consequence of this change is an increase in average temperatures in many — but not all — places around the world. Another worrisome outcome of climate change is the increase in extreme weather seen in many places. Rainfall is an example.

Olga Zolina, who works at the University of Bonn in Germany, participated in the rainfall study that measured the increasing length of wet spells over Europe. She said that the more intense events seem to increasingly occur during the longer periods. The results from the study were published in Geophysical Research Letters in March.

If the current pattern continues, "we can hypothesize that the lengthening of wet spells will result in more intense and more frequently occurring floods,” Zolina said. She and her collaborators are now extending their study to include wetness and flooding….

Thunderstorm in front of Taunus, between Kronberg and Oberursel, "Hochtaunuskreis" in Hesse, shot by Dontworry, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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