About a year earlier, Brunner and her colleagues began investigating how flood patterns would change in a warming world in southern Germany. They found that not only will extreme precipitation events occur more often and intensely, but also extreme flooding in this area. Weeks before their paper was published, their projection came to life.
As global temperatures rise, researchers have been investigating how a warmer climate will affect flooding patterns. Although precipitation events have undoubtedly increased in frequency and intensity, researchers have been unable to clearly discern how flooding will change — until now.
New research by Brunner and her colleagues shows the occurrence and intensity of extreme flood events will increase, but smaller and more moderate floods will probably decline.
“This new research demonstrates how climate change could actually have divergent effects for very large but rare floods versus smaller but more common floods,” he said.
Swain said additional work would be needed to confirm that this flooding behavior applies more broadly around the world but suspects it probably does.
Brunner and Swain, along with colleagues at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, looked at the relationship between precipitation and flooding for 78 watersheds in Bavaria, Germany.