Researchers predict a rise in “extreme precipitation” across most of the world. They say this forecast includes arid regions, which may not be prepared to handle extra rainfall.
A team of scientists looked at records from 11,000 weather stations from 1951 to 2010 and found "extreme precipitation" has increased 1 percent to 2 percent per decade in dry regions. If this pattern holds, the world's driest regions will see an increase in rain and, as a result, more flash floods. It gets worse. Because of the additional heat in the atmosphere, the rate of evaporation will increase. So, the increase rate evaporation will offset any water storage that may have occurred in these regions.
"The concern with an increased frequency and in particular intensity of extreme precipitation events in areas that are normally dry is that there may not be infrastructure in place to cope with extreme flooding events," lead author Markus Donat said in a statement. "Importantly, this research suggests we will see these extreme rainfall events increase at regional levels in dry areas, not just as an average across the globe."
It may sound strange, but you can drown in a desert. More people drown in deserts than die of thirst, according to the USGS. Downpours can quickly turn into flash floods. Craig Childs, author of The Desert Cries, has been at ground zero during a desert deluge. “I've ended up inside of a couple of floods, swimming with debris, trying to get out,” he told NPR. “You really-you don't want to end up in them, but they can come out of nowhere.”
More than ever our changing climate is challenging the power of human ingenuity to adapt to a new environment.
“We are seeing now climate impacts that are tremendously costly and tremendously challenging,” says Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “And EPA’s role is to try to turn that challenge into a positive message moving forward, give communities the tools they need to adapt, you know.”
Main image: David McNew/Getty Images
In article: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker