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Rainfall illustration

Rainfall Prediction

New research on the global water cycle by WHOI scientists Laifang Li, Ray Schmitt, and Caroline Ummenhofer have found links between saltier regions in the Atlantic Ocean in the spring and increased summer rainfall over areas of Africa and the U.S. The discovery offers potential breakthroughs to predict regional rainfall. Water vapor evaporates from the ocean, leaving it saltier. The vapor is transported via the atmosphere over land, where it falls as rain. Moist soil draws solar energy that warms the ground and causes water to evaporate and rise. That eventually draws in moisture-laden air from nearby water bodies, resulting in heavier summer rainfall in Africa and the Midwest. (Illustration by Eric S. Taylor, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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