NZ Herald: Rainfall data vital to fight fires and flooding

Eloise Gibson of the New Zealand Herald writes, in the second of a four-part series on the subject, about the importance of rainfall data for climate forecasters.

Being able to forecast rainfall patterns is of particular importance for a number for reasons, including urban (heavy falls can pressure stormwater systems) and rural (longer fire seasons during times of drought).

However, there are challenges to improving rainfall prediction, including a lack of data and the difficulty of modelling such processes.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Rainfall, and making better overall predictions for cities and regions, was picked by Niwa principal climate scientist James Renwick as a key subject climate forecasters did not know enough about.

“The head of Auckland University’s Environment School, climate researcher Glenn McGregor, also picked rainfall as a major area in need of more research in New Zealand.

“The problem was singled out by the journal Nature this month as one of four top areas of climate change uncertainty globally, with three others – regional predictions, the role of aerosols in warming and cooling, and palaeoclimate data.

“Rainfall uncertainty could mean worse climate changes are in store than scientists think, because climate models tend to underestimate real changes in rainfall patterns.”