City Environments Attract and Strengthen Rainfall

May 22, 2019

A recent Purdue University study says rainfall in populated areas is strengthened by the heat generated by the people below.

Dev Niyogi, a professor in Purdue’s earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences department, says it’s not merely a downtown area that can add energy to a storm -- commuters and highly trafficked areas contribute as well. Niyogi says, “So even going in and out of that city you’re going to have pollution around that city, so now suddenly the footprint of the city is much bigger than what we see in terms where we have those buildings present.”

Niyogi says even cities that consider themselves “storm ready” may not be prepared to control the amount of participation they’ll receive, since the frequency of storms may also increase. He does, however, recommend investing in drainage plans and reservoirs that can better retain the excess water.

Flooding costs cities billions of dollars a year and 2018’s Fourth National Climate Assessment projects the problem will worsen each year.