Increased rainfall volume from future convective storms in the US

Author: Prein, A. F.; Liu, C.; Ikeda, K.; Trier, S. B.; Rasmussen, R. M.; Holland, G. J. & Clark, M. P.

Description: Mesoscale convective system (MCS)-organized convective storms with a size of 100 km have increased in frequency and intensity in the USA over the past 35 years, causing fatalities and economic losses. However, their poor representation in traditional climate models hampers the understanding of their change in the future. Here, a North American-scale convection-permitting model which is able to realistically simulate MSCs is used to investigate their change by the end-of-century under RCP8.5. A storm-tracking algorithm indicates that intense summertime MCS frequency will more than triple in North America. Furthermore, the combined effect of a 15-40% increase in maximum precipitation rates and a significant spreading of regions impacted by heavy precipitation results in up to 80% increases in the total MCS precipitation volume, focused in a 40 km radius around the storm center. These typically neglected increases substantially raise future flood risk. Current investments in long-lived infrastructures, such as flood protection and water management systems, need to take these changes into account to improve climate-adaptation practices.

Subject headings: Thunderstorms; Rainfall; Precipitation; United States; Frequency; Intensity; Climate change

Publication year: 2017

Journal or book title: Nature Climate Change

Volume: 7

Issue: 12

Pages: 880-884

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Type: Journal article

Serial number: 3077

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