TSUKUBA, JAPAN — Scientists say that if the world keeps warming up, the rivers of water vapor that sometimes flow in Earth’s atmosphere will become more frequent and cause more extreme flooding. Here are the details:
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan were surprised by the unusual extreme rainfall over Asia in the July months of 2018 and 2020.
So they created climate models to study the impact of a warming global climate on rainfall patterns in Asia.
In the research paper, published recently in the American Geophysical Union’s journal, the scientists say they found that if the global average temperature rises by 4 degrees Celsius, the global weather system will create more “atmospheric rivers” over Asia, Europe and North America.
Atmospheric rivers are narrow bands of very wet air that sometimes form in the atmosphere and tend to flow in a way similar to rivers on land.
When these atmospheric rivers hit a barrier, like a mountain range, they can dump very large amounts of rain or snowfall very quickly over the area, causing extreme flooding.
The researchers say a warming planet will create more of these airborne moisture streams, which would in turn cause more frequent and more extreme flooding in mountainous areas.
They say that while their study focused on East Asia, the model also predicts such atmospheric rivers to increasingly affect mountainous areas in mid-latitude regions like Europe and North America.
SOURCES: American Geophysical Union, Science Alert