Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Link Between Extreme Precipitation Events and Global Warming?

A recently released study by global warming education group Clean Air-Cool Planet and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) indicates there may be a link between global warming and the extreme precipitation events that continue to plague the Northeast.

The study examined 60 years (1948 to 2007) of rainfall records from 219 National Weather Service reporting stations in nine Northeastern states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont) and found that storms that produce an inch or more of precipitation in a day — a threshold the recent storms far surpassed — are coming more frequently.

According to the UNH, the study's results are consistent with what could be expected in a world warmed by greenhouse gases, though it would take more sophisticated studies to cement an official global warming link.

However, what is more certain is the potential economic impact should the 60-year trend continue. It would require billions of dollars in infrastructure investments to manage the impacts of these extreme weather events, i.e. improvements in roads, bridges, sewers and culverts.