Global warming is speeding up the water cycle – what does this mean?

More water vapour in the air is leading to heavier rainfall on land

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Global warming is accelerating the Earth’s water cycle, meaning less water is on ground and more is in the air.

That’s according to research form the Institut de Ciències del Mar, revealing that water is evaporating quicker as temperatures rise – leaving more water vapour in the atmosphere than there should be.

Heavy rainfall and storms have been a continual result of global warming – and the research explains that the blame for this increase in frequency can be attributed to this quickening of the water cycle.

The scientists stated that 90% of water vapour rains back into the sea, however, the remaining 10% returns to the ground through rainfall on land.

As there is more water vapour in the air, this means there is more precipitation on the continent.

Estrella Olmedo, lead author, reveals that this can also be linked to the melting of ice: “This higher amount of water circulating in the atmosphere could also explain the increase in rainfall that is being detected in some polar areas, where the fact that it is raining instead of snowing is speeding up the melting.”

“The atmosphere and the ocean interact in a stronger way than we imagined, with important consequences for the continental and polar areas,” added fellow author Antonio Turiel.

To understand that the water cycle is accelerating, the researchers reviewed satellite images showing where rainfall was increasing and how quickly evaporation was taking place.