Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA predicts more tropical rain in a warmer world

12.02.2004


As the tropical oceans continue to heat up, following a 20-year trend, warm rains in the tropics are likely to become more frequent, according to NASA scientists.



In a study by William Lau and Huey-Tzu Jenny Wu, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., the authors offer early proof of a long-held theory that patterns of evaporation and precipitation, known as the water cycle, may accelerate in some areas due to warming temperatures. The research appears in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

The study cites observations from NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite showing the rate that warm rain depletes clouds of water is substantially higher than computer models predicted. This research may help increase the accuracy of models that forecast rainfall and climate. The rate that water mass in a cloud rains out is known as the precipitation efficiency. According to the study, when it comes to light warm rains, as sea surface temperatures increase, the precipitation efficiency substantially increases as well.


"We believe there is a scenario where in a warmer climate there will be more warm rain. And more warm rain will be associated with a more vigorous water cycle and extreme weather patterns," Lau said.

The process that creates warm rain begins when water droplets condense around airborne particles and clouds are created. The droplets collide, combine and grow to form raindrops. The raindrops grow large and heavy enough to fall out as warm rain. The study claims, for each degree rise in sea surface temperature, the rate a cloud loses its water to moderate-to- light warm rainfall over the tropical oceans increases by eight to 10 percent.

Cold rains are generally associated with heavy downpour. They are generated when strong updrafts carry bigger drops higher up into the atmosphere, where they freeze and grow. These drops are very large by the time they fall. Once updrafts take these large drops high enough, and freezing takes place, the process of rainfall is more dependent on the velocity of the updraft and less on sea surface temperatures. Since the process of condensation releases heat, warm rains heat the lower atmosphere. More warm rains are likely to make the air lighter and rise faster, creating updrafts producing more cold rain.

The study found warm rains account for approximately 31 percent of the total global rain amount and 72 percent of the total rain area over tropical oceans, implying warm rains play a crucial role in the overall water cycle. Light warm rains appear to occur much more frequently, and cover more area, than cold rains, even though they drop less water per shower. The total precipitation from all types of warm rains accounts for a substantial portion of the total rainfall.

In a warmer climate, it is possible there will be more warm rain and fewer clouds. If the amount of water entering into clouds stays constant and rainfall efficiency increases, then there will be less water in the clouds and more warm rains.

More study is needed to better understand the relationship between increased warm-rain precipitation efficiency and a rise in sea surface temperatures, and to determine how cold rain might be affected by an increase in warm rain and a decrease in cloud water amounts.

NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth System Science to improve prediction of climate, weather and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space.

Krishna Ramanujan | GSFC
Further information:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2003/1224rainfall.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New insights into the ancestors of all complex life
29.05.2017 | University of Bristol

nachricht A 3-D look at the 2015 El Niño
29.05.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Reptile vocalization is surprisingly flexible

30.05.2017 | Life Sciences

EU research project DEMETER strives for innovation in enzyme production technology

30.05.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>