Climate Research

The Northern Hemisphere is heating up more rapidly than the Southern Hemisphere, and that disparity is expected to increase in the coming decades. New research reveals why this gap is likely to widen.



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Tweetable Fact

The most extreme precipitation events are increasing in every region of the contiguous U.S. See map for details: http://bit.ly/YlaETb



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Contact Us: climatematters@climatecentral.org

NOTE: The graphic below is based on the DRAFT NCA numbers and thus is no longer accurate. For a similar graphic containing the FINAL NCA numbers, click here.


Click here for a high-resolution version

If you get the feeling that heavy downpours are more intense than they used to be, you’re not imagining it. According to the National Climate Assessment, released in draft form back in January, the most extreme precipitation events (those in the 99th percentile of intensity) have increased in every region of the contiguous states since 1950. As the map above shows, the rise in intensity has been greatest in the Northeast and least in the Northwest — and in all cases, climate scientists believe, the reason is simple: in a world warmed by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, there’s more evaporation, and the atmosphere can hold on to more water. And when that water vapor condenses as rain or snow, there’s more of it.

If you go all the way back to 1901 and focus just on the Southern Great Plains, below, the picture is very much the same. It is important to note that while the trend in intensity has been upward, it has not been steady: there are ups and downs from one decade to the next. This shows something else climate scientists often point out: human-caused climate change hasn’t replaced natural variability: it comes on top of it.


Click here for a high-resolution version




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