Evidence for intensification of the global water cycle: Review and synthesis

Journal of Hydrology
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Abstract

One of the more important questions in hydrology is: if the climate warms in the future, will there be an intensification of the water cycle and, if so, the nature of that intensification? There is considerable interest in this question because an intensification of the water cycle may lead to changes in water-resource availability, an increase in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms, floods, and droughts, and an amplification of warming through the water vapor feedback. Empirical evidence for ongoing intensification of the water cycle would provide additional support for the theoretical framework that links intensification with warming. This paper briefly reviews the current state of science regarding historical trends in hydrologic variables, including precipitation, runoff, tropospheric water vapor, soil moisture, glacier mass balance, evaporation, evapotranspiration, and growing season length. Data are often incomplete in spatial and temporal domains and regional analyses are variable and sometimes contradictory; however, the weight of evidence indicates an ongoing intensification of the water cycle. In contrast to these trends, the empirical evidence to date does not consistently support an increase in the frequency or intensity of tropical storms and floods.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evidence for intensification of the global water cycle: Review and synthesis
Series title Journal of Hydrology
DOI 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2005.07.003
Volume 319
Issue 1-4
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) New England Water Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 83
Last page 95