Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Rain


We estimate, for current and future climates, the annual probability of areally averaged hurricane rain of Hurricane Harvey’s magnitude by downscaling large numbers of tropical cyclones from three climate reanalyses and six climate models. For the state of Texas, we estimate that the annual probability of 500 mm of area-integrated rainfall was about 1% in the period 1981-2000 and will increase to 18% over the period 2081-2100 under Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR5 representative concentration pathway 8.5. If the frequency of such event is increasingly linearly between these two periods, then in 2017 the annual probability would be 6%, a sixfold increase since the late 20th century.

Concepts: Precipitation, Climate, Weather, Climate change, Tropical cyclone, Cyclone, Rain, Extratropical cyclone


Socioeconomic challenges continue to mount for half a billion residents of central India because of a decline in the total rainfall and a concurrent rise in the magnitude and frequency of extreme rainfall events. Alongside a weakening monsoon circulation, the locally available moisture and the frequency of moisture-laden depressions from the Bay of Bengal have also declined. Here we show that despite these negative trends, there is a threefold increase in widespread extreme rain events over central India during 1950-2015. The rise in these events is due to an increasing variability of the low-level monsoon westerlies over the Arabian Sea, driving surges of moisture supply, leading to extreme rainfall episodes across the entire central subcontinent. The homogeneity of these severe weather events and their association with the ocean temperatures underscores the potential predictability of these events by two-to-three weeks, which offers hope in mitigating their catastrophic impact on life, agriculture and property.Against the backdrop of a declining monsoon, the number of extreme rain events is on the rise over central India. Here the authors identify a threefold increase in widespread extreme rains over the region during 1950-2015, driven by an increasing variability of the low-level westerlies over the Arabian Sea.

Concepts: Weather, India, Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka, Ocean, Cyclone, Rain, Bay of Bengal


We conduct the largest ever investigation into the relationship between meteorological conditions and the sentiment of human expressions. To do this, we employ over three and a half billion social media posts from tens of millions of individuals from both Facebook and Twitter between 2009 and 2016. We find that cold temperatures, hot temperatures, precipitation, narrower daily temperature ranges, humidity, and cloud cover are all associated with worsened expressions of sentiment, even when excluding weather-related posts. We compare the magnitude of our estimates with the effect sizes associated with notable historical events occurring within our data.

Concepts: Precipitation, Climate, Temperature, Meteorology, Cold, Rain, Social media, Cloud


The change of global-mean precipitation under global warming and interannual variability is predominantly controlled by the change of atmospheric longwave radiative cooling. Here we show that tightening of the ascending branch of the Hadley Circulation coupled with a decrease in tropical high cloud fraction is key in modulating precipitation response to surface warming. The magnitude of high cloud shrinkage is a primary contributor to the intermodel spread in the changes of tropical-mean outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and global-mean precipitation per unit surface warming (dP/dTs) for both interannual variability and global warming. Compared to observations, most Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 5 models underestimate the rates of interannual tropical-mean dOLR/dTs and global-mean dP/dTs, consistent with the muted tropical high cloud shrinkage. We find that the five models that agree with the observation-based interannual dP/dTs all predict dP/dTs under global warming higher than the ensemble mean dP/dTs from the ∼20 models analysed in this study.

Concepts: Earth, Precipitation, Climate, Meteorology, Global warming, Rain, Cloud


The composition and prevalence of microorganisms in the middle-to-upper troposphere (8-15 km altitude) and their role in aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions represent important, unresolved questions for biological and atmospheric science. In particular, airborne microorganisms above the oceans remain essentially uncharacterized, as most work to date is restricted to samples taken near the Earth’s surface. Here we report on the microbiome of low- and high-altitude air masses sampled onboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration DC-8 platform during the 2010 Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes campaign in the Caribbean Sea. The samples were collected in cloudy and cloud-free air masses before, during, and after two major tropical hurricanes, Earl and Karl. Quantitative PCR and microscopy revealed that viable bacterial cells represented on average around 20% of the total particles in the 0.25- to 1-μm diameter range and were at least an order of magnitude more abundant than fungal cells, suggesting that bacteria represent an important and underestimated fraction of micrometer-sized atmospheric aerosols. The samples from the two hurricanes were characterized by significantly different bacterial communities, revealing that hurricanes aerosolize a large amount of new cells. Nonetheless, 17 bacterial taxa, including taxa that are known to use C1-C4 carbon compounds present in the atmosphere, were found in all samples, indicating that these organisms possess traits that allow survival in the troposphere. The findings presented here suggest that the microbiome is a dynamic and underappreciated aspect of the upper troposphere with potentially important impacts on the hydrological cycle, clouds, and climate.

Concepts: Bacteria, Organism, Earth, Precipitation, Weather, Atlantic Ocean, Atmosphere, Rain


Changes in global (ocean and land) precipitation are among the most important and least well-understood consequences of climate change. Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations are thought to affect the zonal-mean distribution of precipitation through two basic mechanisms. First, increasing temperatures will lead to an intensification of the hydrological cycle (“thermodynamic” changes). Second, changes in atmospheric circulation patterns will lead to poleward displacement of the storm tracks and subtropical dry zones and to a widening of the tropical belt (“dynamic” changes). We demonstrate that both these changes are occurring simultaneously in global precipitation, that this behavior cannot be explained by internal variability alone, and that external influences are responsible for the observed precipitation changes. Whereas existing model experiments are not of sufficient length to differentiate between natural and anthropogenic forcing terms at the 95% confidence level, we present evidence that the observed trends result from human activities.

Concepts: Water, Earth, Precipitation, Climate, Water cycle, Climate change, Rain, Anthropogenic


This study explores the effects that the weather has on people’s everyday activity patterns. Temperature, rainfall, and wind speed were used as weather parameters. People’s daily activity patterns were inferred, such as place visited, the time this took place, the duration of the visit, based on the GPS location traces of their mobile phones overlaid upon Yellow Pages information. Our analysis of 31,855 mobile phone users allowed us to infer that people were more likely to stay longer at eateries or food outlets, and (to a lesser degree) at retail or shopping areas when the weather is very cold or when conditions are calm (non-windy). When compared to people’s regular activity patterns, certain weather conditions affected people’s movements and activities noticeably at different times of the day. On cold days, people’s activities were found to be more diverse especially after 10AM, showing greatest variations between 2PM and 6PM. A similar trend is observed between 10AM and midnight on rainy days, with people’s activities found to be most diverse on days with heaviest rainfalls or on days when the wind speed was stronger than 4 km/h, especially between 10AM-1AM. Finally, we observed that different geographical areas of a large metropolis were impacted differently by the weather. Using data of urban infrastructure to characterize areas, we found strong correlations between weather conditions upon people’s accessibility to trains. This study sheds new light on the influence of weather conditions on human behavior, in particular the choice of daily activities and how mobile phone data can be used to investigate the influence of environmental factors on urban dynamics.

Concepts: Weather, Mobile phone, Bluetooth, Wind, Rotary dial, Push-button telephone, Rain


Objectives. The purpose of this study was to describe preparations for extreme hot weather at Victorian public sector residential aged care services for the 2010-11 summer, and to examine the role of the Residential Aged Care Services Heatwave Ready Resource in this process. Method. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews of senior staff of Victorian public sector residential aged care services. Interviews were conducted at monthly intervals from November 2010 to March 2011, and data were analysed thematically. Results. All interviewees described pre-summer preparations for hot weather undertaken at the health services they represented. Staff awareness and experience, and having a heatwave plan, were reported to have facilitated heat preparedness, whereas challenges to preparations mainly concerned air conditioning. The Residential Aged Care Services Heatwave Ready Resource was used to inform heatwave plans, for staff and family education, and as an audit tool. Conclusions. An extensive and well-considered approach to minimisation of harm from extreme heat by a sample of residential aged care services is described, and the Residential Aged Care Services Heatwave Ready Resource is reported to have supported the heatwave preparedness process. What is known about the topic? Heatwaves cause illness and death and are likely to become more frequent and severe in the future. Residents of aged care services are particularly vulnerable to harm from heatwaves. The Residential Aged Care Services Heatwave Ready Resource has been developed to support staff of residential aged care services in Victoria to prepare for heatwaves. What does this paper add? This exploratory study provides insight into the types of preparations for extreme hot weather that are undertaken at Victorian residential aged care services before and during summer. What are the implications for practitioners? A combination of staff knowledge and experience, and having a heatwave plan, supported by a publication that includes educational resources and a checklist is reported to facilitate the preparedness of Victorian residential aged care services for extreme hot weather.

Concepts: Health care, Weather, Semi-structured interview, Interview, Extreme weather, Rain, Victoria of the United Kingdom


Dryland ecosystems cover 40% of the total land surface on Earth and are defined broadly as zones where precipitation is considerably less than the potential evapotranspiration. Nonrainfall waters (for example, fog and dew) are the least-studied and least-characterized components of the hydrological cycle, although they supply critical amounts of water for dryland ecosystems. The sources of nonrainfall waters are largely unknown for most systems. In addition, most field and modeling studies tend to consider all nonrainfall inputs as a single category because of technical constraints, which hinders prediction of dryland responses to future warming conditions. This study uses multiple stable isotopes ((2)H, (18)O, and (17)O) to show that fog and dew have multiple origins and that groundwater in drylands can be recycled via evapotranspiration and redistributed to the upper soil profile as nonrainfall water. Surprisingly, the non-ocean-derived (locally generated) fog accounts for more than half of the total fog events, suggesting a potential shift from advection-dominated fog to radiation-dominated fog in the fog zone of the Namib Desert. This shift will have implications on the flora and fauna distribution in this fog-dependent system. We also demonstrate that fog and dew can be differentiated on the basis of the dominant fractionation (equilibrium and kinetic) processes during their formation using the (17)O-(18)O relationship. Our results are of great significance in an era of global climate change where the importance of nonrainfall water increases because rainfall is predicted to decline in many dryland ecosystems.

Concepts: Water, Precipitation, Climate, Hydrology, Water cycle, Evaporation, Rain, Evapotranspiration


Large biases in climate model simulations of cloud radiative properties over the Southern Ocean cause large errors in modeled sea surface temperatures, atmospheric circulation, and climate sensitivity. Here, we combine cloud-resolving model simulations with estimates of the concentration of ice-nucleating particles in this region to show that our simulated Southern Ocean clouds reflect far more radiation than predicted by global models, in agreement with satellite observations. Specifically, we show that the clouds that are most sensitive to the concentration of ice-nucleating particles are low-level mixed-phase clouds in the cold sectors of extratropical cyclones, which have previously been identified as a main contributor to the Southern Ocean radiation bias. The very low ice-nucleating particle concentrations that prevail over the Southern Ocean strongly suppress cloud droplet freezing, reduce precipitation, and enhance cloud reflectivity. The results help explain why a strong radiation bias occurs mainly in this remote region away from major sources of ice-nucleating particles. The results present a substantial challenge to climate models to be able to simulate realistic ice-nucleating particle concentrations and their effects under specific meteorological conditions.

Concepts: Scientific method, Precipitation, Climate, Thunderstorm, Meteorology, Tropical cyclone, Rain, Extratropical cyclone