From: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Published September 18, 2017 11:27 AM

Changes in Nonextreme Precipitation May Have Not-So-Subtle Consequences

Major floods and droughts receive a lot of attention in the context of climate change, but University of Illinois researchers analyzed over five decades of precipitation data from North America to find that changes in nonextreme precipitation are more significant than previously realized and larger than those in extreme precipitation. These changes can have a strong effect on ecosystems, agriculture, infrastructure design and resource management, and point to a need to examine precipitation in a more nuanced, multifaceted way.

“This study articulates how everyday precipitation events – not just the extremes that have been the focus of most studies – are changing,” said Illinois civil and environmental engineering professor and lead author Praveen Kumar. “It’s not just the amount of rainfall that is important; it’s the duration of that rainfall and the amount of time between rainfalls and dry periods.”

The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, is the most comprehensive of its type, said graduate student and co-author Susana Roque-Malo.

“We used data from more than 3,000 weather stations across North America,” Roque-Malo said. “There are a few other studies that use a similar methodology, but they have focused on smaller sections of the continent or parts of Europe.”

Read more at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Image: Illinois researchers Praveen Kumar and graduate student Susana Roque-Malo examined the significance of nonextreme precipitation in context of global climate change. (Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer)

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