17 Feb 2011:
Heavier Downpours Linked
To Increasing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
A comprehensive computer analysis of heavy precipitation events in the Northern Hemisphere from 1951 to 1999 has shown that the intense downpours that have hit many countries in recent decades are at least partly the result of human influence on climate
. Reporting in the journal Nature
, a team of climate scientists said their analysis showed that the likelihood of extreme precipitation on any given day rose by about 7 percent over the last half of the 20th century. The study, the first of its kind, said that detailed computer analyses showed that the increase in severe rainstorms and heavy snowfalls could not be explained by natural variability in the atmosphere. The study did not include the many extreme precipitation events of the past decade, including catastrophic floods in Pakistan, China, Australia, the United Kingdom, and parts of the United States. The study seems to confirm what many climate scientists have been forecasting for years — that as the Earth warms, heavy precipitation events will become increasingly common because warmer air carries more water vapor.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.