Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Rainfall's link to carbon emissions quantified

Shares

Two studies published in Nature this week have demonstrated a direct link between rising greenhouse gas levels and severe rainfall events.

Scientists compared rainfall predictions from eight climate models with data from weather stations around the Northern Hemisphere. Gabriele Hegerl, a climate researcher at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, told NatureNews:

"We can now say with some confidence that the increased rainfall intensity in the latter half of the 20th century cannot be explained by our estimates of internal climate variability."

In the second study, scientists found that human greenhouse gas emissions "significantly increased" the likelihood of severe floods that caused £1.3 billion (US$2 million) of damage in England and Wales in 2000.

They showed, with a 66 per cent confidence level, that the emissions nearly doubled the risk of the 2000 floods. For comparison, the chances that emissions raised the risk of flooding by only a fifth are just 10 per cent.

"This has immense importance not just as a further justification for emissions reduction but also for adaptation planning," said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate policy researcher at Princeton University in the United States.

Similar attribution studies are underway for flood and drought risk in Europe; meltwater availability in the western United States; and drought in southern Africa, said NatureNews.

 

References

(1) Nature doi:10.1038/nature09763 (2011)
(2) Nature doi:10.1038/nature09762 (2011)

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.