New research by a Florida State University geography professor shows that climate change may be playing a key role in the strength and frequency of tornadoes hitting the United States.
Published Wednesday in the journal Climate Dynamics, Professor James Elsner writes that though tornadoes are forming fewer days per year, they are forming at a greater density and strength than ever before. So, for example, instead of one or two forming on a given day in an area, there might be three or four occurring.
Professor James Elsner's new study shows that climate change may be causing more and deadlier tornadoes.
Credit: Bill Lax/Florida State University
"We may be less threatened by tornadoes on a day-to-day basis, but when they do come, they come like there's no tomorrow," Elsner said.
Elsner, an expert in climate and weather trends, said in the past, many researchers dismissed the impact of climate change on tornadoes because there was no distinct pattern in the number of tornado days per year. In 1971, there were 187 tornado days, but in 2013 there were only 79 days with tornadoes.
But a deeper dive into the data showed more severity in the types of storms and that more were happening on a given day than in previous years.
"I think it's important for forecasters and the public to know this," Elsner said. "It's a matter of making sure the public is aware that if there is a higher risk of a storm, there may actually be multiple storms in a day."
The United States experiences more tornadoes than any other country, and despite advances in technology and warning systems, they still remain a hazard to residents in storm-prone areas. The 2011 tornado season, for example, had nearly 1,700 storms and killed more than 550 people.
So far, in 2014, there have been 189 storms with a death toll of 43, according to the NOAA/National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.
One bright spot of news in the research, Elsner added, was that the geographic areas impacted most regularly by tornadoes do not appear to be growing.
Elsner was joined on the paper by independent researcher Thomas H. Jagger, formerly a research associate at Florida State University, and meteorologist Svetoslava Elsner.
Kathleen Haughney | Eurek Alert!
Unusual cold spell in the stratosphere creates conditions for severe ozone depletion in the Arctic
10.02.2016 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Fossils Turn Out to Be a Rich Source of Information
09.02.2016 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
Indications of light-induced lossless electricity transmission in fullerenes contribute to the search for superconducting materials for practical applications.
Superconductors have long been confined to niche applications, due to the fact that the highest temperature at which even the best of these materials becomes...
Researchers at King’s College London and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom have for the first time demonstrated a direct link between the Wbp2 gene and progressive hearing loss. The scientists report that the loss of Wbp2 expression leads to progressive high-frequency hearing loss in mouse as well as in two clinical cases of children with deafness with no other obvious features. The results are published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.
The scientists have shown that hearing impairment is linked to hormonal signalling rather than to hair cell degeneration. Wbp2 is known as a transcriptional...
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
26.01.2016 | Event News
10.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
10.02.2016 | Life Sciences
10.02.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering