“The wet gets wetter and the dry gets drier”.
That is one of the core messages of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). about the impact of climate change on the Earth’s water cycle.
It’s the subject of the latest episode of Fear & Wonder, a new podcast from The Conversation that takes you inside that time-defining IPCC report through the hearts and minds of the scientists who wrote it.
The water cycle describes the physical processes that move water around the planet. Simply put, when water evaporates, it is transported through the atmosphere as water vapor. It then condenses into clouds and precipitates as rain or snow. Without water, human societies and ecosystems would not be able to function, so understanding how climate changes affect the water cycle is vital.
In this episode we hear from Professor Paola Arias from Colombia and Dr Krishnan Raghavan from India. They explain how climate change intensifies wet and dry extremes, and how human influences such as air pollution and land degradation affect regional precipitation patterns.
As temperatures rise over land, water evaporates more easily, which can cause drier conditions and lead to more severe droughts. Since a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, heavy rainfall also intensifies as temperatures continue to rise, increasing the risk of flooding in many parts of the world.
We discuss the various consequences of this phenomenon, citing examples such as the 2022 flooding on the east coast of Australia, extremes in the South Asian monsoon affecting millions of people, and the devastating 2020 bushfires in the Pantanal in South America, the largest tropical wetland in the world.
To listen and subscribe, click hereor click your favorite podcast app icon in the image above.
Fear and Wonder is sponsored by the Climate Councilan independent, fact-based organization dedicated to climate science, impacts and solutions.