Global climate change

Warming tropical oceans may increase frequency of extreme rainfall events

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
2/06/2019, 9:02:22 AM

Warming of the tropical oceans due to climate change may cause a substantial increase in the frequency of extreme rainstorms by the end of this century.

A peer-reviewed study, led by NASA's JPL looked at 15 years of data, which helped confirm the relationship between ocean sea-surface temperature and the onset of severe rainstorms.

The research team found that when the sea-surface temperature was higher than 28 degrees C. (82 deg. F.), there was an increase in severe rainstorms, which are characterized as storms that produce at least 0.12 of an inch of rain per hour.

They also found that there was a 21 percent increase in the number of extreme storms for every 1 deg. C. (1.8 deg. F) increase in ocean sea-surface temperature.

Based on current projections of greenhouse gas emission growth and ocean warming, the frequency of extreme rainstorms may increase by as much as 60 percent by the end of the century, according to the NASA News report.

"Our results quantify and give a more visual meaning to the consequences of the predicted warming of the oceans," said lead researcher Hartmut Aumann. "More storms mean more flooding, more structure damage, more crop damage and so on, unless mitigating measures are implemented."

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

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Global climate change