Two Purdue University studies show that urbanization changes storm patterns and rainfall amounts, highlighting the need for urban planning and infrastructure design that considers how the landscape will affect the weather.
In two separate papers, teams led by Dev Niyogi, Indiana state climatologist and professor in the departments of Agronomy and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, studied storm patterns over the coastal megacity of Mumbai, India, and the mountainous city of San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, to determine how urban development affected storms in those regions. The Mumbai study was done in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, while the study in Argentina was done with the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
The researchers expected to see that Mumbai’s added heat and buildings significantly disrupted storms. But they expected to see little impact in San Miguel de Tucumán since the terrain around the city is rugged, which likely makes the storms turbulent before they reach the city.
In Mumbai, Niyogi said, the urban landscape disrupted rainfall, creating pockets and ribbons of rain that would intensify downpours in some parts of the city. Mumbai and other Indian cities have experienced significant flooding in recent years, possibly exacerbated by the way the cities affect storms. The researchers also found the storms organize themselves over the city in clusters. This organization showed that meteorologists should focus on small, 100-kilometer-squared areas with rain gauges or satellite images to best model future storms.
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Image via Nature - Scientific Reports