The speculations that have been made over the past decade about the reasons behind the severe intensities of the most extreme rainfall have now been confirmed. A study led by the University of Adelaide proved that rising temperatures and climate change are responsible for the increase in the frequency and severity of the events.
The lead author, Dr Seth Westra, a Senior Lecturer with the University of Adelaide’s School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering and member of the Environment Institute and his team conducted a detailed review of changes to extreme rainfall, and assessed the relationship between these and atmospheric temperatures measured at more than 8000 weather stations around the world.
The findings indicated that there is a 7% increase in the intensity of extreme rainfall for each degree of increase in atmospheric temperature. According to Westra, if the predictions of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature come true, then the increase in rainfall intensity might be expected to reach around 35%.
The results are based on data for the period between 1900 and 2009. The estimates are clear, showing direct link between the two variables. The team predicts that more intense rainfall events would cause frequent and severe floods.
This will be particularly the case in tropical countries, where the population is poor and not capable to adapt to the risk.