SOURCE: EurekAlert! and AGU

DATE: June 3, 2019

SNIP: The frequency of downpours of heavy rain–which can lead to flash floods, devastation, and outbreaks of waterborne disease–has increased across the globe in the past 50 years, research led by the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has found.

The number of extreme downpours increased steadily between 1964 and 2013–a period when global warming also intensified, according to research published in the journal Water Resources Research.

The frequency of ‘extreme precipitation events’ increased in parts of Canada, most of Europe, the Midwest and northeast region of the U.S., northern Australia, western Russia and parts of China.

Global warming can lead to increased precipitation because more heat in the atmosphere leads to more atmospheric water which, in turn, leads to rain.

Torrents of rain not only lead to flooding, but can threaten public health, overwhelming sewage treatment plants and increasing microbial contaminants of water. More than half a million deaths were caused by rain-induced floods between 1980 and 2009.

Heavy rain can also cause landslides, damage crops, collapse buildings and bridges, wreck homes, and lead to chaos on roads and to transport, with huge financial losses.