Global warming to intensify atmospheric river rain events

By on August 1, 2013

Satellite image of atmospheric river in the eastern Pacific Ocean (Credit: United States Naval Research Laboratory)


Researchers from the University of Iowa have conducted a study that shows that weather systems known as atmospheric rivers could help instigate more winter floods in Britain, the BBC has reported.

Atmospheric rivers are bands of moisture that flow above the surface of the ocean. When these rivers make landfall and meet elevated terrain, the rivers are forced higher into the atmosphere where they cool and produce heavy rainfall.

Researchers used five different computer models that factored in global warming over the next century. All the models suggested that the warming climate, which enables atmospheric rivers to hold more moisture, will result in heavier winter flooding in Britain.

Scientists estimate that between 2074-99, the amount of atmospheric river events could double.

Image: Satellite image of atmospheric river in the eastern Pacific Ocean (Credit: United States Naval Research Laboratory)

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