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Study: Global Warming Partly to Blame for all the Rain

July 10, 2009

Washington, DC – Global warming is partly to blame for the heavy storms and flooding in Massachusetts and across the country, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The report points to recent severe weather events, including this summer's nearly non-stop rain in New England, and says global warming is partly to blame.

Dr. Amanda Staudt, a climate scientist with NWF and report contributor, says warmer air can hold more moisture, meaning even heavier precipitation is expected in the years to come.

"In the Midwest and the Northeast for example, those big storms that historically would only be seen once every 20 years, are projected to happen as much as every four to six years by the end of the century."

The report also details shifts in snowfall patterns in the onset of spring, and in the way river ice is melting. Dr. Staudt says all those factors can increase the flood risk.

"Understanding that the global warming in the future will bring more flooding risks means now is the time to make better choices about how we manage the landscape in these flood-proned areas."

NWF recommends communities move toward cleaner energy to avoid the worst effects of global warming, such as severe flooding. In Massachusetts, the group recommends discouraging development in areas of high flood risk and protecting the natural systems, such as wetlands, to help buffer against floods.

NWF admits no single storm or flood can be directly attributed to climate change, but says the overall trends are clear. The report, Increased Flooding Risk: Global Warming's Wake-Up Call for Riverfront Communities, may be read at

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA