09/19/2012 04:38 pm ET

Warming May Increase Tropical Rainfall, Study Shows

It’s one of the classic predictions of global-warming science: as the planet heats up, extreme precipitation should become more common. That’s because warm air can hold more moisture than cool air, and when that moisture finally comes down as rain or snow, there’s more of it to fall.

Exactly how much more, however, is something scientists are still working out — and a paper just published in Nature Geoscience has taken a step in that direction. According to author Paul O’Gorman, an atmospheric scientist at MIT, heavy downpours in the tropics are likely to increase by ten percent for every 1°C (1.8°F) increase in global average surface temperature.

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