What changes might occur in the hydrologic cycle if our climate were to warm up or cool down significantly?

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ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two major changes that could occur to the hydrological cycle as a result of climate change.  The first is rainfall levels and patterns.  A warming climate could lessen total rainfall amounts in already dry parts of the world.  And maybe even worse, rain events could become more erratic in other parts of the world, including an increase in extreme weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, and strong thunderstorms.  The other major change is with ocean currents.  A warming climate would melt more polar ice and add more freshwater to the oceans.  This could alter major ocean currents and change the weather accordingly.  For example, remember that Great Britain lies on the same latitude as Scandinavia, yet is much more temperate in winter weather.  This is due to the fact that ocean currents bring warmer waters from the equator up to Great Britain, thus moderating its temperature.  If this current were altered, Britain could become more like Norway in the winter.

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