Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA Finds Stronger Storms Change Heat and Rainfall Worldwide

13.03.2006


Studies have shown that over the last 40 years, a warming climate has been accompanied by fewer rain- and snow-producing storms in mid-latitudes around the world, but the storms that are happening are a little stronger with more precipitation. A new analysis of global satellite data suggests that these storm changes are affecting strongly the Earth’s water cycle and air temperatures and creating contrasting cooling and warming effects in the atmosphere.



The mid-latitudes extend from the subtropics (approximately 30° N and S) to the Arctic Circle (66° 30" N) and the Antarctic Circle (66° 30" S) and include pieces of all of the continents with the exception of Antarctica.

George Tselioudis and William B. Rossow, both scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University, New York, authored the study that appears in the January issue of the American Geophysical Union’s journal, Geophysical Research Letters.


"There are consequences of having fewer but stronger storms in the middle latitudes both on the radiation and on the precipitation fields," Tselioudis said. Using observations from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) and the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP), Tselioudis and Rossow determined how the changes in intensity and frequency of storms are both cooling and warming the atmosphere around the world.

Fewer and stronger storms in the mid-latitudes affect the radiation field, that is, the solar energy being absorbed and the heat radiation emitted by the Earth. There are two things happening with storms and energy. The first is that sunlight is reflected back into space from the tops of the clouds, creating a cooling effect at the Earth’s surface. Conversely, clouds also act to trap heat radiation and prevent it from escaping into space, creating a warming on the Earth’s atmosphere.

A 1998 study of precipitation data for the continental U.S., showed an increase in more extreme rainfall and snowfall events over the previous 70 to 90 years. Further, climate model studies that Tselioudis and others performed in the last few years indicate that additional levels of carbon dioxide will lead to fewer but more potent storms as has been the case in the last 50 years.

In the present study, when a storm change prediction by a leading climate model was examined, the radiation effects of stronger storms were found to be greater than those produced by the related decrease in the number of storms. Fewer storms mean less cloud cover to reflect sunlight and that adds heat to the Earth. However, more intense storms tend to produce thicker clouds which cool the atmosphere. Tselioudis and Rossow looked at both of those factors, and calculated that the cooling effect is larger than the warming in all months except June, July and August, when the two effects cancel each other.

In terms of precipitation from these storms, the effects of increasing storm intensity also surpass those of decreasing storm frequency. In the northern mid-latitudes, the stronger storms produce 0.05–0.08 millimeter (mm)/day (.002-.003 inch/day) more precipitation. Although this number seems small, the average precipitation daily in the northern mid-latitudes is only around 2 mm/day (.08 inch/day), implying that the strengthening of the storms produces a 3-4% precipitation increase that comes in the form of more intense rain and snow events.

The long-term changes in sunlight and heat produced by the storms have been hard to observe because scientists only have observations for the last 25 years. Also, there are other things that affect how much sunlight is being reflected and absorbed by the Earth, and those are constantly changing. For example, when black soot falls on snow, the black soot absorbs heat from the sun, whereas the white ice would have reflected most of it.

This study presents a method that uses current climate relationships and climate change model predictions to arrive at more complete estimates of radiation and precipitation changes that may occur in a warmer climate.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2006/strong_storms.html
http://www.nasa.gov

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Cyclic change within magma reservoirs significantly affects the explosivity of volcanic eruptions
30.11.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>