Kevin E. Trenberth

Climate Research

Published date October 18, 2010

Changes in precipitation with climate change

  • States the water holding capacity of air increases by about 7% per 1°C warming, which leads to increased water vapor in the atmosphere
  • States that with modest changes in winds, patterns of precipitation do not change much, but result in dry areas becoming drier (generally throughout the subtropics) and wet areas becoming wetter, especially in the mid- to high latitudes: the ‘rich get richer and the poor get poorer
  • States that in the tropics and subtropics, precipitation patterns are dominated by shifts as sea surface temperatures change, with El Niño a good example
  • States that "storms reach out to gather water vapor over regions that are 10–25 times as large as the precipitation area, or in linear dimensions, have a radius of about 3–5 times the radius of the precipitation domain"