Human activities can affect rainfall

Jun 20, 2006

U.S. researchers say they've determined human activities in arid urban environments can affect the rainfall and water cycle.

While scientists have known for some time the so-called "heat-island" effect of large cities can affect weather, they knew less about that effect and other processes in arid cities, such as Phoenix, that have experienced explosive population growth.

Now, a study by Marshall Shepherd, a climatologist at the University of Georgia, has shown -- using a unique 108-year-old data record and NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite -- arid cities such as Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Phoenix have an effect on rainfall patterns around them.

The study showed a 2-percent increase in rainfall in Phoenix, but researchers said that could be an anomaly.

As important, it appears human activities such as land use, aerosols and irrigation in these arid urban environments affect the entire water cycle as well.

"Many of the fastest-growing urban areas are in arid regimes," said Shepherd. "Because their total rainfall is low, these areas have been largely ignored in studies on how human activities affect the water cycle. But these cities are particularly sensitive to such changes, since the water supply is so critical."

The research appears in the online edition of the Journal of Arid Environments.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter northern forests in 50 years

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bailing out the world's fresh water bank

Apr 14, 2014

An Australian-based water scientist is testing a new technology to help save imperilled underground water resources in Australia and around the world as climate change tightens its grip on the global food supply.

Remote sensing moisture model could aid farmers

Mar 06, 2014

Global farmers could get better decision-making help as refinements are made to North Alabama soil moisture modeling research being done by an atmospheric science doctoral student at The University of Alabama in Huntsville ...

Recommended for you

New research on Earth's carbon budget

16 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...