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Scientists have predicted that droughts and floods will become more frequent and severe as our planet warms and climate changes, but detecting this on regional and continental scales has proven difficult. Now a new NASA-led study confirms that major droughts and pluvials – periods of excessive precipitation and water storage on land – have indeed been occurring more often.
In the study published March 13, 2023, in the journal Nature Water, two NASA scientists examined 20 years of data from the NASA/German GRACE and GRACE-FO satellites to identify extreme wet and dry events. Floods and droughts account for more than 20% of the economic losses caused by extreme weather events in the U.S. each year. The economic impacts are similar around the world, though the human toll tends to be most devastating in poor neighborhoods and developing nations.