Climate change It throws the toilet on the floor very out of control. According to new satellite data, fresh water is getting clearer and salt water is getting saltier at an increasingly fast rate all over the world. If this pattern continues, it will lead to an increase in rainstorms.
The results point to an extreme acceleration of the global water cycle — a sign not clearly observed in direct salinity measurements from ocean buoys, which typically measure just below the ocean surface. However, it is most commonly predicted in climate models.
As global temperatures rise, climate scientists expect there will be more evaporation at the ocean’s surface, making the upper layer of the sea saltier and adding moisture to the atmosphere.
This, in turn, will increase precipitation in other parts of the world, diluting some bodies of water to make them less salty.
The pattern can essentially be described as “wet-wet-dry-gets drier,” which is a real cause for concern. If the water cycle accelerates with global warming, it could have profound effects on modern society, leading to droughts and water shortages, as well as an increase in storms and floods.
It may have begun to accelerate the melting of ice, as precipitation is increasing in the polar regions.
“This high amount of water circulating in the atmosphere could also explain the increase in precipitation observed in some polar regions, where the fact that it rains instead of snow accelerates melting,” explains a mathematician at the Barcelona Institute for Marine Sciences. Estrella Olmedo.
At the extreme north and south poles of our planet, there are fewer ocean buoys that directly measure surface salinity. The new satellite analysis is the first to provide a global perspective on the matter.
“When the winds are not very strong, the surface water temperature rises, but it does not exchange heat with the water below, which allows the surface to become saltier than the lower layers and enables the effect of evaporation to be observed through satellite measurements,” explain Physicist Antonio Torrell of the Instituto de Sciences del Mar, Spain.
“[T]It tells us that the atmosphere and ocean are interacting in a stronger way than we imagined, with important consequences for continental and polar regions.”
Recent climate models predict that for every degree Celsius of warming, the Earth’s water cycle could intensify by up to 7 percent.
In practical terms, this means that wet areas can grow by 7 percent while wet areas can grow by 7 percent on average.
Global satellite data now supports those predictions. In the tropics and mid-latitudes, researchers found significant differences between buoys’ measurements of salinity and satellite salinity measurements.
Recent measurements have shown more clearly changes in the Earth’s water cycle.
“Specifically, in the Pacific Ocean, we saw that the surface salinity decreased more slowly than the ground salinity, and in this same region, we observed an increase in sea surface temperature and a decrease in wind intensity and depth of the mixing layer,” Says Estrella Olmedo.
The authors argue that future ocean models should include satellite salinity data, as they appear to be an honest proxy for global fluxes in evaporation and precipitation.
The only way to ensure that heat waves, droughts and storms do not intensify in the future is to limit global warming – A lot of people can still da.
The world is already closed to a certain amount of change. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that if we can keep global warming to 2°C, extreme weather events will be 14 percent stronger than they were at the start of the Industrial Revolution.
This is a worrying amount of change. In 2021, the United Nations warned that the coming decades will likely bring a series of catastrophic droughts. When nearly a quarter of the world’s population suffers from a water shortage, the consequences can be dire.
The study was published in Scientific Reports.