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Finding New Evidence of a Clear Relationship Between Temperature and The Global Water Cycle Over the Past Two Millennia


To create the best models of future climate or past climate, researchers funded by the Climate Program Office’s Climate Observations and Monitoring (COM) Program are seeking to understand exactly how changes in global temperatures affect the water cycle. A new study, published in Nature Geoscience, closely examines the relationship between water and climate over the past 2,000 years on Earth. COM funded this project to develop data products that significantly improve our understanding of weather, climate extremes, and water resources.

COM-supported researcher Sylvia Dee of Rice University worked with an international group of scientists to investigate paleoclimate proxies for precipitation as well as water in the oceans, lakes, and soils around the world. These records are from the recently published Past Global Changes (PAGES) Iso2k database, which contains 759 globally distributed datasets derived from water isotopes and is publicly available through NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The results demonstrate rapid adjustments in precipitation in response to Earth’s warming and cooling over the study period. The authors describe a specific relationship wherein temperature exerted a measurable influence on global precipitation and soil water throughout the past two millennia, driven by global ocean evaporation and condensation processes. This work helps to constrain large-scale variations in the global water cycle and temperatures, which is increasingly important in our warming world.

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For more information, contact Clara Deck.

Image credit: Pixabay

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