Federal study: Global warming means stronger ‘extreme’ rains

The study shows “a 20-30 percent expected increase in the maximum precipitation possible over large portions of the Northern Hemisphere by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gases continue to rise at a high emissions rate,” NOAA said.

“We conclude that the most scientifically sound projection is that [probable maximum precipitation] values will increase in the future and raise the risk of damaging floods. These conclusions apply not only to the U.S. but also globally to almost all other areas,” states the study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

The study will help inform infrastructure planning such as the design of dams and other “runoff control” structures, the authors say.

“Our next challenge is to translate this research into local and regional new design values that can be used for identifying risks and mitigating potential disasters. Findings of this study, and others like it, could lead to new information for engineers and developers that will save lives and major infrastructure investments," said Thomas Karl, head of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in North Carolina.

Researchers from a North Carolina State University climate institute that supports NOAA, the Desert Research Institute, the University of Wisconsin and ERT, Inc. all worked with NOAA on the study.