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Increasing Trend of Heavy rainfall Events over the Upper Midwest

March 18, 2013; 3:13 PM ET

Scientists from the University of Iowa have found that there has been an increase in heavy rainfall events across most of the Midwest over the past 60 years. This trend appears to be holding true despite the ongoing drought.

The greatest concentration of this increase has been in the northern part of the study region.

The team believes that increasing trends in temperature across the region is leading to an increase in water vapor.

The researchers looked at changes in the frequency of heavy rainfall through daily measurements at 447 rain gauge stations in the central and southern United States.

Heavy rainfall was defined as days in which rainfall exceeded the 95th percentile of the at-site rainfall distribution, according to the report.

Excerpt from the Iowa Now article....

The hotter the surface temperature, which has been the trend in the Midwest and the rest of the world, the more water that can be absorbed by the atmosphere. And the more water available for precipitation means a greater chance for heavy rains, explains Gabriele Villarini, assistant professor in engineering at the UI and lead author of the paper, published in the Journal of Climate, the official publication of the American Meteorological Society.

The team also thought that it is reasonable to assume that changes in land use, land cover and agricultural practice would affect the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere as well, similar to what other previous studies have shown.

This study was posted in the the Journal of Climate.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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