Portents of Precipitation: New Atlas Predicts the Rain
Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have created an unprecedented visual atlas of global rainfall projections over the next century.
The Atlas of the Global Water Cycle, based on different climate models compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for its 2007 4th Assessment Report, visualizes on maps and tables the current and expected measures of rainfall, evaporation and runoff across the globe.
The atlas gathers the disparate rainfall predictions of a number of international climate modeling groups and makes them more accessible to the public so that individuals and communities can make more informed decisions about water storing and use, according to Dr. Michael Roderick, one of the creators of the atlas and a researcher at ANU.
“We know that as the world warms, there is likely to be more rainfall on a global average basis,” Roderick said. “But where is this increased rainfall going to occur, and which areas might get drier? These are simple questions to ask, but it is surprisingly hard for an individual to get an answer…”
Rainfall forecasts are even harder in countries like Australia, where predictions vary among different climate models. But unlike existing climate reports, which tend to average out the disparate data, the atlas displays all separate models.
”All these models are like crystal balls for the global water cycle –- but it’s a question of whose crystal ball is the best and how do we know that,” Roderick said. “I can’t answer this question, but at least by having all the information to compare, people will be able to make more informed decisions.”
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Source: Australian National University
, a Bulgaria native, is a Chicago-based reporter for Circle of Blue. She co-writes The Stream, a daily digest of international water news trends.
Interests: Europe, China, Environmental Policy, International Security.
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