The Greenhouse Is Making the Water-Poor Even Poorer

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Science  27 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6080, pp. 405
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6080.405

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The question of how bad global warming will get has long been cast in terms of how hot the world will get. But perhaps more important will be how much rising greenhouse gases crank up the water cycle. Theory and models predict that a strengthening greenhouse will increase precipitation where it is already relatively high and decrease it where it is already low. A new study of the ocean's changing salinity on page 455 of this week's issue of Science confirms that this mechanism of water-cycle amplification has been operating for the past half-century. The result also suggests that the water cycle is intensifying quickly under global warming—twice as fast as climate models have been predicting.