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Flooding and Extreme Precipitation

Contacts, for more information:

Possible increases in riverine or stream flood risk and in extreme precipitation are two major concerns about future climate warming. These concerns arise from both projected increases in average precipitation minus evaporation in a number of regions, and from projected increases in precipitation extremes. Increases in extreme precipitation, which are expected as a consequence of increased atmospheric water vapor in a warmer climate, have been detected and attributed to anthropogenic forcing in at least one study to date. Sea level rise associated with future climate warming is expected to contribute toward increasing the risk of extreme coastal flooding events, although the full change in risk will depend also on other factors such as changes in the coastal storm climate and infrastructure.

GFDL Research

GFDL scientists are working toward a better scientific understanding of these possible impacts of climate change. With the land model LM3, GFDL climate models now have the potential to better represent runoff responses to climate change, not only through influence of snow-water equivalent and soil moisture conditions, but also of water-table depth, streamflow and lake levels. The lab is also active in research related to sea level rise.

Tropical cyclones are an example of a phenomenon that can produce extreme precipitation events, and GFDL scientists are using dynamical downscaling techniques to investigate the relationship between climate warming and tropical cyclone precipitation.

Research Highlights