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More extreme storms ahead for California

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New technique predicts frequency of heavy precipitation with global warming

MIT Science Daily  January 3, 2017  see full article here

Scientists have found that extreme precipitation events in California should become more frequent as the Earth’s climate warms over this century. The researchers developed a new technique that predicts the frequency of local, extreme rainfall events by identifying telltale large-scale patterns in atmospheric data. For California, they calculated that, if the world’s average temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100, the state will experience three more extreme precipitation events than the current average, per year.

….To get a better picture of how future precipitation events might change region by region, Gao decided to focus on not simulated precipitation but large-scale atmospheric patterns, which climate models are able to simulate much more reliably. “We’ve actually found there’s a connection between what climate models do really well, which is to simulate large-scale motions of the atmosphere, and local, heavy precipitation events,” Schlosser says. “We can use this association to tell how frequently these events are occurring now, and how they will change locally, like in New England, or the West Coast.”…


Golden Gate Bridge in a storm. Extreme precipitation events in California are expected to become more frequent as the Earth’s climate warms over this century. Credit: © crin / Fotolia

Xiang Gao, C. Adam Schlosser, Paul O’Gorman, Erwan Monier, Dara Entekhabi. 21st Century Changes in U.S. Regional Heavy Precipitation Frequency Based on Resolved Atmospheric Patterns. Journal of Climate, 2016; DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0544.1

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