OU meteorologist: Extreme droughts, long-lasting rainfall events expected to worsen

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NORMAN, Okla. – A meteorologist at the University of Oklahoma says that extreme droughts and long-lasting rainfall events are expected to worsen in the future.

“In some places, there will be more frequent droughts, and other places can expect more frequent rainfall,” said Elinor Martin, professor in the School of Meteorology, OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences. “The Caribbean and Central America will have more extreme droughts and the north and northeast of North America can expect more extreme heavy rain events. Around the world, some places will see droughts and heavy rain events become more intense, longer lasting and more frequent. For the agriculture and related industries, this is particularly important.”

Martin says even regions that are projected to become drier overall, like the Southwest and South Central United States, are expected to see more severe, longer and frequent periods of heavy rain.

“When it gets warmer, water vapor can build up in the atmosphere, so when it does rain it rains a lot and for long periods, but there will be longer periods between rain events so droughts will become worse,” said Martin.

Martin’s study has been published online in Geophysical Research Letters.

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