Wet places become wetter and dry places become drier under America’s future climate.
Climate change is expected to bring about warmer temperatures in most places around the globe. But the situation with rainfall and snow is different. As Earth warms due to rising levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, scientists expect existing precipitation patterns in many cases to become more extreme. In short, rainy regions will see more rain, and dry regions will become drier. Two climate scenarios—one where global carbon dioxide levels reach 550 parts per million (ppm) by the year 2100, and another where levels rise to 800 ppm—were analyzed to see how such changes could affect different parts of the U.S. The analysis was performed for the National Climate Assessment, a U.S. Global Change Research Program effort to study and help the nation prepare for climate change. Watch the videos to see how precipitation patterns in the U.S. could change under each scenario.