UH scientists project rainfall changes for next 30 years

Published: Oct. 13, 2011 at 1:30 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 13, 2011 at 3:13 AM HST
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Chase Norton
Chase Norton
Pao-Shin Chu
Pao-Shin Chu

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new study could help local policymakers and agencies that deal with severe weather. Scientists at UH Manoa spent nearly two years putting together the long-term projection on heavy rainfall and flash floods. The study was recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

When severe weather strikes, Mother Nature can cause lots of problems. From flash flooding to power outages, dealing with the damage can be costly. The researchers used a statistical model, rainfall data, and a suite of General Circulation Models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to project heavy rainfall events on Oahu's south shore.

"We are gonna be seeing an increased number of heavy rain events, but a decrease in the intensity with each event for the next 30 years between 2011 and 2040," explained Chase Norton, a meteorology research assistant at the School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology.

They chose the southern shoreline based on the availability of data and the impact on people.

"Heavy rainfall translates directly to flooding, and people also can care about this because Waikiki is an area that has major tourist attraction," said professor Pao-Shin Chu.

The scientists said the results could help policymakers, as well as organizations like Hawaiian Electric Company and the Board of Water Supply.

"When you have at least some kind of idea then you can give that to the people that can actually change and make the policies that need to be put in place to better prepare and help out people that might be in need or at risk," said Norton.

The study's long-term projection provides a glimpse into the future far beyond what is offered by the National Weather Service.

"We focus in primarily on more shorter-term conditions, and then as far as if anything comes up longer range, we take what the climate prediction center gives us which goes out 12 months," said hydrologist Kevin Kodama.

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