Nav: Home

Overlooked trends in annual precipitation reveal underestimated risks worldwide

November 13, 2018

Orono, Maine -- A reanalysis of worldwide annual trends in precipitation demonstrates that risk to human and environmental systems has been underestimated, according to a team of University of Maine researchers. As a result, they found more than 38 percent of the global population and over 44 percent of land area have been experiencing overlooked precipitation trends.

Conventional trend analysis approaches examine changes in mean annual precipitation over time, and erroneously assume that changes in high and low precipitation follow suit, according to Anne Lausier, a UMaine doctoral candidate in civil and environmental engineering and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and Shaleen Jain, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

The historical record of annual precipitation is summarized by the probability distribution function (PDF), where the frequency with which precipitation amounts within a certain interval occur and the probability of exceedance (non-exceedance) above (below) a given threshold can be readily estimated.

In their paper, "Overlooked Trends in Observed Global Annual Precipitation Reveal Underestimated Risks," published in the journal Scientific Reports, Lausier and Jain present an innovative trend typology using quantile regression and offer a comprehensive analysis of overlooked trends worldwide.

Their trend typology, rather than focusing on mean and median trends alone, extends analyses to the upper and lower tails of the PDF to assess the compounded influence of risk and variability at various thresholds.

The most frequently overlooked trends include an increased risk of extreme wet conditions and increased variability found in parts of the midwestern United States, northern Canada, south-central Asia and Indonesia -- regions that are home to nearly 860 million people.

Conversely, the new comprehensive analysis found 840 million people exposed to a decreased risk of wet conditions, particularly in southern Africa, South America and parts of northern Asia, indicating a decrease in the incidence of high annual totals.

An estimated 630 million people are impacted by an increased risk of dry conditions in parts of southern Europe, the U.S. West, southern Canada and northern Africa.

More than 40 percent of global rainfed agricultural areas are exposed to overlooked trends including parts of southern and western Africa and the midwest U.S.

"Human adaptation to climate change requires understanding the likelihood of experiencing detrimental impacts," Lausier and Jain write. "Mischaracterization of risks to human and environmental systems may underestimate the urgency of climate adaptation or could lead to inappropriate strategies. Our results show that significant population and land areas on the global scale correspond with changes in precipitation risk and variability, and are mischaracterized by conventional approaches."

"Unreliable or erroneous estimates of risk are of special concern for more vulnerable contexts and communities," the researchers say. "Our results underscore how trends overlooked in terms of spatial extent, regionality, and severity have implications for a range of human and environmental systems. Application of our approach in future climate studies will allow for risk assessment at more appropriate adaptation targets."
-end-


University of Maine

Related Risk Articles:

Genetic risk scores may improve clinical identification of patients with heart attack risk
Researchers at Mass General and the Broad Institute have found that applying polygenic risk scores can identify patients at risk of a heart attack who may be missed in standard clinical evaluations.
New risk prediction model could identify those at higher risk of pancreatic cancer
A risk prediction model that combined genetic and clinical factors with circulating biomarkers identified people at significantly higher than normal risk of pancreatic cancer.
Risk of HIV-related heart disease risk varies by geography, income
People living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to people without HIV.
Genetic study provides most comprehensive map of risk to date of breast cancer risk
A major international study of the genetics of breast cancer has identified more than 350 DNA 'errors' that increase an individual's risk of developing the disease.
New risk scores help physicians provide better care for high-risk pulmonary patients, study finds
Study of more than 17,000 patients finds new laboratory-based method of estimating outcomes for patients with a severe pulmonary disorder that has no cure can help physicians better provide proper care, referrals, and services for patients at the end of life.
Researchers develop model to predict suicide risk in at-risk young adults
New research from Pitt's School of Medicine shows that fluctuation and severity of depressive symptoms are much better at predicting risk of suicidal behavior in at-risk young adults.
High-risk sexually transmitted HPV virus associated with increased CVD risk
Infection with high-risk strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which have been linked to cancer, might increase the risk of heart and blood vessel or cardiovascular disease, especially among women with obesity or other cardiovascular risk factors.
Radiation therapy cuts low risk of recurrence by nearly 3/4 for patients with 'good risk'
A subset of patients with low-risk breast cancer is highly unlikely to see cancer return following breast conservation surgery but can lower that risk even further with radiation therapy, finds a new long-term clinical trial report.
Erectile dysfunction means increased risk for heart disease, regardless of other risk factors
Men with erectile dysfunction are at greater risk for heart attacks, strokes and sudden cardiac death.
Study finds new combined risk score more effectively predicts stroke risk in Afib patients
New study finds that integrating two separate clinical risk score models more accurately assesses the stroke risk of patients with Afib.
More Risk News and Risk Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#569 Facing Fear
What do you fear? I mean really fear? Well, ok, maybe right now that's tough. We're living in a new age and definition of fear. But what do we do about it? Eva Holland has faced her fears, including trauma and phobia. She lived to tell the tale and write a book: "Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.