IRVINE, Calif., Oct. 5 (UPI) — More fresh water is flowing into the world’s oceans every year from more frequent and extreme storms linked to global warming, U.S. scientists say.
University of California, Irvine, researchers say 18 percent more water fed into the world’s oceans from rivers and melting polar ice sheets in 2006 than in 1994, with an average annual rise of 1.5 percent, a university release said Monday.
“That might not sound like much — 1.5 percent a year — but after a few decades, it’s huge,” Jay Famiglietti, UC Irvine Earth system science professor, said.
“In general, more water is good,” Famiglietti said. “But here’s the problem: Not everybody is getting more rainfall, and those who are may not need it.”
“What we’re seeing is exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted — that precipitation is increasing in the tropics and the Arctic Circle with heavier, more punishing storms,” he said.
“Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of people live in semiarid regions, and those are drying up.”
In essence, Famiglietti said, greenhouse gas-fueled higher temperatures are dangerously accelerating the evaporation and precipitation cycle.
Hotter weather above the oceans causes water to evaporate faster, creating thicker clouds unleashing more powerful storms over land.
The rainfall then travels via rivers to the sea in ever-larger amounts, and the cycle begins again, he said.
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