Climate Change Causes Water Cycle to Intensify Over 7%

Climate Change Causes Water Cycle to Intensify Over 7%

The planet's water cycle includes evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. New research in Nature shows that the rising temperatures have intensified the global water cycle by up to 7.4%, meaning twice the amount of fresh water is moving to Earth's poles. Previous models showed only 2% to 4% intensification.

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Why This Matters

Climate change has been causing droughts all around the world, and this high volume of displaced fresh water is making subtropical regions even drier. The Western US and northern Mexico are undergoing their driest period in at least 1,200 years, depleting crucial sources of water in the area. Researchers estimate that 42% of this drought's severity is due to higher temperatures from climate change. Meanwhile, temperatures in the Middle East were nearly 7 degrees Celsius warmer on average, worsening drought conditions.

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A Water Cycle In Crisis

Researchers approximate the volume of extra fresh water displaced from warmer regions between 1970 and 2014 is between 46,000 and 77,000 cubic kilometers.

They measured fresh water displacement by looking at ocean salinity. Heavy rainfall salinity, whereas evaporation leaves salt behind. The amount of fresh water that has disappeared from subtropical areas paints a dire picture of what's to come if we do not avert climate change.

The study's lead author, Taimoor Sohail of the University of New South Wales, told the Guardian, "Those dire predictions that were laid out in the IPCC [report] will potentially be even more intense."

Down To Earth: IPCC Report - Climate change induced droughts major driver of food insecurity, March 2, 2022.

​​WW0: Newsmaker of the Week - Jacob Morrison, director of River's End, October 28, 2021.