Deadly floods hit multiple countries simultaneously.Scientists say this will become even more common

Schools in New Delhi were forced to close on Monday after heavy monsoon rains hit the Indian capital, killing at least 15 people in the past three days in landslides and flash floods. Further north, the overflowing River Bees washed away vehicles downstream and flooded nearby areas.

Two people died and at least six went missing on Monday as heavy rains hit southwestern Japan, triggering floods and landslides. Local television showed houses in Fukuoka Prefecture being destroyed and muddy water from the swollen Yamakuni River threatening a bridge in the town of Yabakei.

In Ulster County, New York’s Hudson Valley, and Vermont, some say flooding is the worst since Hurricane Irene in 2011.

The devastating floods in India, Japan, China, Turkey and the United States may seem distant events, but atmospheric scientists say they have something in common. Storms are forming in a warmer atmosphere, and extreme rainfall is now a more frequent reality. If scientists predict more warming in the future, the situation will only get worse.

That’s because as the atmosphere warms, it contains more moisture, which increases storm precipitation, which can have deadly consequences. Pollutants, especially carbon dioxide and methane, are heating the atmosphere. Instead of allowing heat to radiate from the Earth into space, they retain heat.

Climate change doesn’t cause storms to rain, but these storms form in an atmosphere that is getting warmer and wetter.

“At 68 degrees Fahrenheit, we can hold twice as much water as at 50 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Rodney Wynn, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay. “Warm air expands and cold air contracts. You can think of it as a balloon. When you heat it, it expands in volume and can hold more water.”

For every degree Celsius (equivalent to 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), the atmosphere warms and holds about 7% more moisture. According to NASA, the average global temperature has increased by at least 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880.

“When thunderstorms occur, the water vapor condenses into raindrops and returns to the surface. So when these storms occur in a humid, warm environment, precipitation increases,” said Brian Bryan, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Miami. Soden explained.

On Turkey’s mountainous and picturesque Black Sea coast, heavy rains swollen rivers, causing floods and landslides that ravaged cities. Floods in another mountainous region in southwestern China also killed at least 15 people.

“As the climate warms, heavy rains are expected to become more common, which is a very robust prediction for climate models,” Soden added. “It’s no surprise that these events happen. That’s what the model has predicted from day one.”

Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist and director of NASA’s Goddard Space Institute, said the areas hit hardest by climate change aren’t the areas that emit the most pollutants that cause global warming. .

“The majority of emissions come from Western developed countries, and most of the impacts occur in regions with poor infrastructure, poor preparedness for extreme weather, and no practical means of dealing with it. “There is,” Schmidt said. .

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