Warming Climate Has Caused Water Cycle to Intensify, Study Says

A new study published in the journal Science suggests that the cycle of evaporation and rainfall over the world’s oceans has accelerated 4 percent in the last half-century as a result of global warming, a development that could portend more extreme weather in the decades to come. In an analysis of salinity in oceans from 1950 to 2000, scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California found that the salty areas of the ocean have gotten saltier and fresher areas have gotten fresher, a phenomenon they attribute to stronger patterns of evaporation and precipitation over the ocean. The researchers suggest a 1-degree F increase in global temperatures during that period was enough to trigger the 4 percent intensification of the water cycle. If that trend continues, they say, projected increases in temperatures by 2100 could cause the water cycle to intensify by as much as 20 percent, which means regions already receiving a lot of rainfall will receive even more and areas prone to drought will be even drier.