Depending on whom you ask, global warming is either the biggest threat since the Cuban missile crisis or the biggest hoax since the 1969 moon landing. Most rational thinkers stand somewhere in the middle — but if the earth really is getting hotter, why have the past few summers been so wet and gloomy?
Rain picture from Shutterstock
Global warming is the rise in the average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans, which is primarily blamed on human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels (say hello carbon tax) and deforestation on a massive scale.
According to some experts, this has begun to affect the world's climate in a variety of ways — including droughts, heat waves... and (wait for it) extreme rainfall.
This theory has been lent extra credence by a new study from the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, which has found the frequency of thunderstorms increases in tandem with rising air temperatures.
The research team combined measurements of rainfall over Germany with weather and temperature records to separate instances of showery, convective rainfall from rain events that occur when warm air masses override cooler ones. The team found that the intensity of extreme precipitation (AKA thunderstorms) rises markedly at higher temperature.
As the report explains; "convective precipitation responds much more sensitively to temperature increases than stratiform precipitation, and increasingly dominates events of extreme precipitation."
The findings imply that the increase in extreme rain expected with climate warming will mostly be associated with thunderstorms. Better start packing a raincoat to work.
Strong increase in convective precipitation in response to higher temperatures [Nature Geoscience]