Climate change is supercharging our water cycle, bringing heavier rainfall extremes and related flood risks across the United States. In fact, rainfall hours became thirteen percent wetter on average across a good chunk of U.S. cities from 1970 to 2022. There’s no discrimination in weather either, so even the driest of regions in our country have seen an uptick in their rainfall rates.
The hike in intense rainfall rates is solely contributed to the amount of carbon we are emitting. For every one degree of warming, it’s proven that the air can hold about four percent more moisture. So in the case of the United States, we have warmed two and a half degrees since 1970. That means the air in our country can hold about ten percent more moisture which can lead to heavier downpours, flash flooding, landslides, damaged crops, and even water-borne disease.
Over the years, the Northeast has experienced a thirteen percent increase in hourly rainfall rates. On a hyperlocal scale, Burlington has seen an almost five percent increase in intense hourly rainfall rates since 1970. This soggier trend not only puts people’s lives at risk but also the ecosystem and our infrastructure.