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 NASAs 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 NASAs 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.
Krishna Ramanujan | GSFC
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