Extreme rainfall forecasts improved in New York

Science & Technology News

Flooding in the Mohawk Valley area from the Nor’easter that brought several inches of rain to Central New York on Tuesday, Oct. 26th, 2021

(WUTR/WFXV/wPNY) – New York State has been battered by excessive rainfall and countless flood alerts this week. 

Unfortunately, extreme events such as this will become more frequent and more intense in the future due to climate change.

Though an international team led by atmospheric scientist Cornelia Klein is developing new methods to more accurately predict future rainfall extremes through a new generation of high-resolution climate models.

Computer models that are used to simulate the global climate have a resolution that’s not small enough to see most clouds and mountains.

This means that smaller thunderstorms and the rainfall they produce cannot be simulated in a realistic way. Dr. Cornelia Klein uses a TV analogy to further explain.

“The principle is comparable to high- and low-resolution television: In HD, you see every blade of grass on a football field, while on an old TV you might just recognize the ball”. 

Advancements in computing power have finally made high-resolution climate forecasts possible which allows them to see the smaller storms just like how on an HD TV, you can see little details like the blades of grass on a football field.

Dr. Cornelia has worked out a method to bring together the best of the climate modeling and observed data worlds, providing improved estimates for probable intensities of future extreme rainfall events.

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