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    May 09, 2016 | 9:13 AM

    How Is Climate Change Impacting the Water Cycle?

    Climate change increases our risk of both heavy rains and extreme droughts. But why – and how – is that? Aren't the two contradictory?

    Science has shown that climate change touches every corner of our planet’s ecosystem, and the water cycle is no exception. Because the processes involved are highly dependent on temperature, changes in one have consequences on the other. Specifically, as global temperatures have steadily increased at their fastest rates in millions of years, it’s directly affected things like water vapor concentrations, clouds, precipitation patterns, and stream flow patterns, which are all related to the water cycle.

    So how does climate change impact the water cycle? We’ve created an infographic below that illustrates what’s going on, but we’ll describe it here too. Put simply, water evaporates from the land and sea, which eventually returns to Earth as rain and snow. Climate change intensifies this cycle because as air temperatures increase, more water evaporates into the air. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, which can lead to more intense rainstorms, causing major problems like extreme flooding in coastal communities around the world.

    But it doesn’t end there. At the same time that some areas are experiencing stronger storms, others are experiencing more dry air and even drought. Like we mentioned above, as temperatures rise, evaporation increases and soils dry out. Then when rain does come, much of the water runs off the hard ground into rivers and streams, and the soil remains dry. The result? Still more evaporation from the soil and an increased risk of drought.

    Check out the infographic below to see how climate change is affecting the water cycle. And if you find it useful, share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. 

    What you can do next

    Are you looking for ways to make a difference?

    A Climate Reality Leadership Corps training is a good place to start. As a Climate Reality Leader, you’ll join a network of over 20,000 like-minded activists to share the science and work toward solutions to secure the safe, sustainable tomorrow we all deserve.

    Our next training event will be held June 29 to July 1 in Raleigh, North Carolina, and later this year we will be in Detroit, Michigan (August 11-13) and Orlando, Florida (September 3-4). 

    We can’t remain silent in the fight against the climate crisis. Learn more about a training today.

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    Before You Go

    At Climate Reality, we work hard to create high-quality educational content like blogs, e-books, videos, and more to empower people all over the world to fight for climate solutions and stand together to drive the change we need. We are a nonprofit organization that believes there is hope in unity, and that together, we can build a safe, sustainable future.

    But we can't do it without your help.

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    The Climate Reality Project