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Climate change results in rainier Vancouver spring

A basic rule of thumb is that climate change will make rainy areas grow ever rainier and dry areas grow ever drier. Sure enough, Vancouver's rainy climate is getting significantly wetter in the spring months.

According to my calculations using Environment Canada weather records, Vancouver's rainy climate is already:

  • 49 percent rainier in April
  • 35 percent rainier in May
  • 27 percent rainier in June

Good news for the umbrella industry, I guess.

This soggy increase has happened with global warming of less than 1 degree C so far. Both the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently said we are on track for five times more warming this century. The IEA says we are heading for a "catastrophe". MIT, meanwhile, says there is "no way the world can or should take these risks."

Sorry kids, but it looks like your world is going to be a whole lot soggier. Apparently we adults can't be bothered to stop trashing your future climate. We have our hands full finding new ways to dig up and burn the fossil fuels that are causing the problem. Turning tar into oil; removing mountain tops to get at the buried coal; cracking rocks to get the remaining pockets of methane; drilling deep into the icy high Arctic sea -- it takes a lot of effort to get that carbon from where it is hiding in the ground and put it into your future atmosphere.

Averaged over the entire year, Vancouver's rainy climate has grown 12 percent rainier. This trend of global warming causing more rain can be seen worldwide. The US EPA says:

Average precipitation has increased in the United States and worldwide. Since 1901, global precipitation has increased at an average rate of 1.9 percent per century, while precipitation in the lower 48 states has increased at a rate of 6.4 percent per century.

The quality of rainfall is also changing worldwide. A recent study by the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that gentle showers are decreasing while extreme deluges are increasing. April downpours bring May downpours.

Last year NASA announced that it rained so hard worldwide that the oceans fell. Worldwide rainfall and snowfall were so extreme, in so many places last year, that sea levels fell dramatically. The bigger sponge of our warmer atmosphere sucked so much water out of the oceans and squeezed it out on land that sea levels actually fell for awhile.

Some of these recent deluges have been hard on folks:

  • Thailand's 2011 flood wiped out 18 percent of their GDP. It was 35 times more damaging than any natural disaster in their history. In terms of national GDP it was equivalent to the USA suffering 25 Hurricane Katrinas in a single year.
  • Pakistan's 2010 flood erased 5.5 percent of their GDP. This was 4 times worse than any natural disaster for them. Then in 2011 extreme flooding returned and became the second worst natural disaster in their history.
  • Queensland, Australia had its own "biblical" flood in 2011 which took out 3.2 percent of Australia's GDP. It was five times more damaging than anything Australia had ever faced. At one point an area the size of France and Germany combined was under water. Maybe that is why their government was finally able to enact a national carbon tax.
  • El Salvador suffered epic flooding in 2011 that wiped out 4.2 of GDP. It was second only to the 2009 flooding that topped all damage charts for that nation.
  • Cambodia lost 4.5 percent of GDP to extreme rainfall in 2011. This was three times more damaging than any previous natural disaster.
  • The two most expensive natural disasters in Sri Lanka's history: a flood in January and a then another flood in February of 2011.
  • Colombia suffered rains that just wouldn't stop in 2011. Nobody had seen anything like it. The resulting floods erased 2 percent of GDP. It was three times more destructive than any previous natural disaster.

To put these in context...

More in Climate Snapshot

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