April 2024 sets global moisture record

April 2024 sets global moisture record
April was the wettest April on record. Water vapour is a green house gas and the warmed the planet gets the more moisture there is. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews May 8, 2024

April 2024 set a global moisture record for the planet, reports Ben Noll, a climatologist who monitors rainfall.

With moisture the most prevalent greenhouse gas (GHG), as the temperatures rise, the rate of vaporisation increases, which in turn threatens to accelerate global warming.

As covered by bne IntelliNews, extreme rainfall is already a problem as powerful storms and flash floods threaten to do trillions of dollars of damage. In April, Dubai saw an entire year’s worth of rain fall in a single day turning the international airport into a lake and flooding the subway.

Each degree of temperature increase pushes up vaporisation by 7% and escalates the chances of extreme storms by 15%, according to scientists.

However, moisture is not tracked in the same way that temperatures are. The limited data that does exist has largely focused on the five 'traditional' GHGs meaning that scientists are increasingly worried that the climate models are wrong and are underestimating the rate at which global warming is accelerating.

“A warmer world is a moister world: this is evidenced by a weather variable called "total column water" or "precipitable water", the total moisture amount in a column of air, from the ground all the way up to the top of the atmosphere,” says Noll. “Global monthly temperature rankings are tracked in real-time, so why not atmospheric moisture too?”

Rising water vapour will also eventually have lethal effects when a deadly combination of high temperatures and high humidity creates a wet-bulb effect: the humidity preventing sweat from evaporating, leading the body to overheat and killing the victim within six hours if no other way of cooling down is available.