Freshwater is flowing into Earth's oceans in greater amounts every year, a team of researchers has found, thanks to more frequent and extreme storms linked to global warming.
"In general, more water is good," Famiglietti said. "But here's the problem: Not everybody is getting more rainfall, and those who are may not need it. What we're seeing is exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted -- that precipitation is increasing in the tropics and the Arctic Circle with heavier, more punishing storms. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of people live in semiarid regions, and those are drying up."
In essence, he said, the evaporation and precipitation cycle taught in grade school is accelerating dangerously because of greenhouse gas-fueled higher temperatures, triggering monsoons and hurricanes. Hotter weather above the oceans causes freshwater to evaporate faster, which leads to thicker clouds unleashing more powerful storms over land. The rainfall then travels via rivers to the sea in ever-larger amounts, and the cycle begins again.