Climate scientists have long projected that increases in global temperatures will result in higher rainfall and flooding in tropical regions. But now a MIT study has put some numbers to the prediction. Writing in Nature Geoscience in a September 16th letter titled “Sensitivity of tropical precipitation extremes to climate change,” Paul A. O’Gorman, professor of atmospheric science at MIT, said that for every one-degree Celsius increase in global surface temperature, there will be 10 percent heavier rainfall extremes in the tropics.
Photo: Bangladesh flooding by Richard P.J. Lambert, CC BY 2.0
O’Gorman tells MIT News that “The study includes some populous countries that are vulnerable to climate change, and impacts of changes in rainfall could be important there.” Extreme rainfall in the tropics responds to climate change in distinct ways from that of other regions. He added, “It seems rainfall extremes in tropical regions are more sensitive to global warming. We have yet to understand the mechanism for this higher sensitivity.”
For more details, read his letter here.