(NEW YORK) – According to a new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, more rainy days and extreme rainfall are likely to damage global economies.
“This is about wealth – and ultimately about people’s jobs,” Leonie Wenz, a senior scientist, told ABC News. “Economies around the world are slowing down with more rainy days and extreme daily rainfall, a key finding that contributes to our growing understanding of the real costs of climate change.”
“We know from previous work that floods in connection with extreme precipitation damage the infrastructure that is crucial for economic productivity and can also cause local production disruptions,” said Wenz, “having a disruptive effect on companies, production and transport.”
The analysis, carried out by a team of scientists who examined 40 years of data in more than 1,500 regions around the world, shows that economic growth declines as the rainy season increases.
“Especially for wealthy industrialized countries like the USA, Japan or Germany, the increased daily rain turns out to be bad,” said Wenz. But smaller, more agrarian economies can see some benefits.
As the planet warms up, there is more precipitation because warm air contains more water vapor. While global rainfall trends vary widely and are extremely complex due to factors such as geography and terrain, extreme rainfall is on the rise – it is widely accepted by many climate scientists that regions already prone to heavy rainfall events will experience them more frequently.
“It is more the climate shocks from extreme weather that threaten our way of life than the gradual changes – by destabilizing our climate, we damage our economy,” says Anders Leverman, co-author of a study.
Some of these extremes can be devastating floods with massive consequences, Stamford University researcher Frances Voigt Davenport told ABC News in 2021.
“We’re seeing climate change aggravate extreme precipitation and aggravate the most extreme events,” Davenport said, adding that nearly a third of US flood damage from 1988 to 2017 – which cost about $ 73 billion – was due to long-term changes in precipitation .
Other recent extreme rainfall can be attributed to tropical cyclones or severe weather outbreaks, which cost the US approximately $ 101 billion last year. Of the 10 most costly extreme rainfall, tropical cyclones, and storm events in the United States, nine have occurred since 2004.
Dr. Kai Kornhuber, a climate researcher from Columbia University, told ABC News in an interview about how these extreme events have both direct and indirect effects.
“Extreme rainfall,” explains Kornhuber, “often leads to floods and can thus cause considerable economic damage – directly by destroying property and indirectly by disrupting supply chains, infrastructure and production facilities.”
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