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Data shows frequency of extreme rain events rising

EXTREME rainfall events are on the rise in line with increasing temperatures as part of climate change, a global study by the University of Adelaide has uncovered.

The study analysed 30 years of data from around the world, finding the frequency of extreme rain events was rising in line with temperatures.

Released just days after Bundaberg residents were inundated again, the study does not herald relief for people living in oft-flooded areas of Queensland.

It was the most comprehensive review of changes to extreme rainfall ever undertaken in academia, including data from more than 8000 weather stations, lead author Dr Seth Westra said.

"The results are that rainfall extremes are increasing on average globally. They show that there is a 7% increase in extreme rainfall intensity for every degree increase in global atmospheric temperature," Dr Westra said.

"Assuming an increase in global average temperature by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, this could mean very substantial increases in rainfall intensity as a result of climate change."

He said trends in rainfall extremes were examined over the period from 1900 to 2009 to determine whether they were becoming more intense or occurring more frequently.

"The results show that rainfall extremes were increasing over this period, and appear to be linked to the increase in global temperature of nearly a degree which also took place over this time," he said.

"If extreme rainfall events continue to intensify, we can expect to see floods occurring more frequently around the world."

The strongest increases occurred in tropical countries and regions around the world.

The research also involved researchers from the University of New South Wales, Australia and the University of Victoria, Canada.

Topics:  climate change flooding rain study


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