Research Shows Climate Change Increase Risk of Extreme Rainfall in Mountainous Areas

A new study published in the journal Nature reveals the alarming impact of rising temperatures on extreme rainfall events in mountainous regions. The research found that for every degree Celsius of warming, the density of major downpours above 2,000 meters increases by 15%. Additionally, every additional 1,000 meters of altitude adds another 1% of rainfall. 

A world that is 3 degrees Celsius hotter than pre-industrial levels could see a 50% increase in the likelihood of devastating deluges. This highlights the vulnerability of infrastructure that is not designed to withstand such extreme flooding events, putting communities at risk.

The study said that the Earth’s surface has already warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius. Leading to record-breaking downpours that caused extensive flooding in Pakistan and parts of California. Current projections indicate that the planet will warm up by 2.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The research, based on data spanning 70 years and climate-model projections, identified two key drivers behind the increase in extreme rainfall events in a warming world.

Read also Half Of Earth to Enter New Climate Zone Due to Climate Change

The first driver is the increased availability of water in the atmosphere. With every one-degree Celsius rise, moisture content in the atmosphere increases by seven percent. This greater moisture, combined with the second factor leads to intensified extreme rainfall events. The study found that heavy rainfall has become more frequent and intense across most regions since the 1950s, as confirmed by the World Weather Attribution consortium.

The second factor, which was unexpected, is the transformation of snow into rain. The researchers observed that rainfall triggered runoff more rapidly than snowfall, increasing the risk of flooding, landslides, and soil erosion. This shift from snow to rain at an altitudes between 2,500 and 3,000 meters is likely due to precipitation occurring just below freezing. The study highlights that mountainous regions and adjacent flood plains, particularly the Himalayas and North America’s Pacific mountain ranges, will be most impacted by extreme rainfall events.

Given these findings, the study’s authors stress the need for robust climate adaptation plans in high-risk areas. Infrastructure such as dams, highways, railroads, and other constructions should be designed and built to withstand the increasing rainfall extremes resulting from a warmer climate. The authors also suggest avoiding high-risk areas altogether or implementing engineering solutions to protect communities living in these regions. While the study focused on the northern hemisphere due to limited observational data from the southern hemisphere, the implications are significant and call for urgent action to mitigate the potential devastation caused by extreme rainfall events.

Source : JapanToday

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