You may not want to read this if you're living in a part of the country that is suffering from drought and intense heat, because this post is about rain. And plenty of it.
I took the photo a few days ago, after the dog dish had collected the previous night's rainfall -- two inches. We feed blind Jake his dinner outside in his yard because he often needs to, um, "use the facilities" right after eating. After bringing him in for the night, I forgot to pick up his dish until the following morning. I was no longer surprised to see how much rain we got all at once -- these heavy downpours seem to be more and more common. You can see in the photo that the raindrops hit the ground so hard they splattered dirt off the ground and into the dish.
Of course, it's not just us, or our imagination. Extreme precipitation events have become much more common in the past 50 years. And a new study just released today, When It Rains, It Pours: Global Warming and The Increase in Extreme Precipitation from 1948-2011, shows that New England is well ahead of the rest of the country in the frequency of extreme precipitation events, up 85% between 1948 and 2011. The next highest region is the Middle Atlantic states at 55%. And in New England, it's New Hampshire that has seen the most frequent extreme events -- up a whopping 115%. Next highest is Rhode Island at 90%. (The summary is here and the full study, including state and regional tables, is here.)
Another study, Trends in Extreme Precipitation Events for the Northeastern United States 1948-2007, was published by the University of New Hampshire in 2010 and also showed a significant increase in these events. That study, available here, said that historically, a two-inch rainfall could be expected to occur about two times each year in the Northeast. (Bear in mind that there are different ways to define "extreme precipitation" and degrees of "extreme," such as two-inch, four-inch and six-inch precipitation events.) I haven't counted how many two-inch events we've had already this year, but we are way over two!
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a related graphic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
(Click on the graphic for a larger version.)
The methodology and timeframe behind that chart may be different from the other studies, but the results are still pretty dramatic.
The challenge for us is learning how to grow crops on naturally damp soil -- the farm is dotted with springs, and both of our wells are spring-fed -- when rain is increasingly coming down in torrents. Indeed, the morning after the storm that left 2 inches of rain in Jake's dish, we had another torrential downpour. I wish I had left a dish out to capture that rainfall, but it was so heavy I'd be surprised if it hadn't been close to 2 inches itself.
It's not just extreme precipitation that we will be learning to cope with as a result of climate change, of course, but more extreme weather events in general, as a recent study in the Journal of the American Meteorological Society explained.
The best "visual" on extreme weather is this next chart from Munich Re, the giant insurance company that is a global re-insurer (i.e., they insure other insurance companies, like State Farm, for major losses). Because much of their business is based on assessing risk from major weather events, Munich Re has collected this kind of data for years:
(Click on the graphic for a larger version.)
You can see the trend line is going only one way -- up. This matters to Munich Re, and by extension to their insurance company customers, because their rates for reinsurance are driven by the likelihood of these risks occurring.
Now, I'd rather have to deal with extreme precipitation events than extreme drought and heat. Alayne's father is in Wichita, Kansas, where it is forecast to hit 110° today and tomorrow, cooling off to 109° on Thursday, and back up to 111° on Friday. I can't imagine. What's a two-inch rainfall compared to that?
Please Vote for the Farm!
The latest Shelter Challenge started Monday, July 9 and ends at midnight on September 16. Grand prize in this round is $5,000, plus $1,000 for weekly winners and $1,000 for state winners. There are also other categories ... please see the Shelter Challenge website for details.
*** We are now LISTED UNDER OUR NEW NAME, ROLLING DOG FARM. State is still NH for New Hampshire. ***
Please remember, you can vote every day ... consider bookmarking the voting page to make it easy.
We just won $1,000 as a weekly winner in the last contest, and thousands more in the previous contests. The Shelter Challenge really does bring in a lot of money for the animals here!
You can vote in the Shelter Challenge here.
Thank you for your votes!