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An increasing amount of research shows that human-caused changes to landscapes can significantly impact the amount of water that is evaporated into the atmosphere.
Centre researcher Patrick Keys has together with researchers from The Netherlands and Germany developed a method to locate the region from which evaporated water starts its travel through the atmosphere, and where it later falls as rain or snow.
The method is based on a computer model that backwards track the path of the water, from where it falls as rain, back through the atmosphere to its origin as evaporation.
Keys and his colleagues call the evaporation area a precipitationshed. This can be understood as the area upwind of a specific location that contributes to most of the rainfall. In other words, the precipitationshed can be understood as a 'watershed of the sky', where evaporated water flows through the atmosphere to a specific location, falling out as rain.