Wednesday 20 September 2017

'Rivers in sky' to bring heavy rain for years

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

TORRENTIAL rainfall and damaging floods will continue to ravage Ireland as giant rivers of water vapour in the atmosphere are boosted by global warming.

These 'rivers in the sky' can be 1,400 times the waterflow of the Shannon and will increase heavy rainfall in the coming years, according to an author of an academic study.

It found that atmospheric rivers, which can span continents, are becoming increasingly common over Ireland and Britain.

This allows the air to hold more water vapour, which then falls as torrential rain.

One of the report's authors, meteorologist Dr David Lavers, of the University of Reading, highlighted a particularly vast example of the phenomenon, which caused the devastating floods of November 2009.

Dr Lavers described an atmospheric river as "a region of the atmosphere where there's intense water transport".

He said it was caused by the meeting of a low pressure centre and a warm weather front, combined with a very strong low-level wind.

Dr Lavers told the Irish Independent: "Our results suggest from these current model projections that these atmospheric rivers are likely to get stronger and more frequent, which will then potentially lead to larger rainfall totals and larger and more frequent floods."

He cited the particularly large atmospheric river from 2009, which caused massive flooding across Ireland.

His report was published along with a number of other academics by the Institute of Physics. Dr Lavers said its results were directly applicable to Ireland as the atmospheric rivers pass over the country first when they roll in from the Atlantic.

Irish Independent

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