Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Warmer, wetter climate could mean stronger, more intense storms

19.12.2017

High-resolution climate simulations suggest that extreme convective systems will increase in frequency under a warmer climate scenario

How would today's weather patterns look in a warmer, wetter atmosphere - an expected shift portended by climate change?


Average composite reflectivity over the CONUS (contiguous US) domain in all 13 years of the simulations are shown by season (May-June and July-August) and by simulation type (control and psuedo global warming).

Credit: Kristen Rasmussen/NCAR

Colorado State University researcher Kristen Rasmussen offers new insight into this question - specifically, how thunderstorms would be different in a warmer world.

The assistant professor of atmospheric science works at the interface of weather and climate. She is lead author on a new paper in Climate Dynamics that details high-resolution climate simulations across the continental United States. Her results suggest that extreme thunderstorms, or what atmospheric scientists call convective systems, will increase in frequency under a warmer climate scenario. This shift would be caused by fundamental changes in thermodynamic conditions of the atmosphere.

For the study, Rasmussen employed a powerful new dataset developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, where Rasmussen completed postdoctoral work before joining the CSU faculty in 2016.

The scientists generated the enormous dataset by running NCAR's Weather Research and Forecasting model at an extremely high resolution of about 4 kilometers (about 2.5 miles), across the entire contiguous U.S. Typical climate models only resolve to about 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) - not nearly the detail available in the new dataset. Included in the new data are finer-scale cloud processes than have been available in previous climate models.

Using the dataset and collaborating with NCAR researchers, Rasmussen led analysis of detailed climate simulations. The first control simulation included weather patterns from 2000-2013. The second simulation overlaid that same weather data with a "pseudo global warming" technique using an accepted scenario that assumes a 2- to 3-degree increase in average temperature, and a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

"When we compared the current convective population to the future, we found that weak to moderate storms decrease in frequency, whereas the most intense storms increase in frequency," Rasmussen said. "This is an indication of a shift in the convective population, and it gives us a picture of how changes in climate may affect the occurrence of thunderstorms."

To explain this finding, the study also showed that while the amount of energy available for convection increases in a warmer and moister climate, the energy inhibiting convection also increases. The relationships of these shifts provide a thermodynamic explanation for increasing or decreasing numbers of storms.

Current climate models do not properly account for cloud processes and have made assumptions about their behavior. In fact, cloud and mesoscale, or medium-scale, processes in the atmosphere are among the biggest uncertainties in today's climate models, Rasmussen said.

"Now that global climate models are being run at higher resolution, they need more information about the physical processes of clouds, in order to better understand all the ramifications of climate change," she said. "This was one of the motivations behind the study."

In Rasmussen's study, cloud behavior was more realistically defined using data resolved in 4-kilometer blocks. That meant she could resolve topographical features like the Rocky Mountains and allow the thunderstorms to develop naturally in their environment. Her study accounted for propagation of organized storms, and also included correct daily precipitation cycles across the U.S., neither of which are accurately represented in current climate models.

NCAR plans more climate simulations that include even finer-scale detail of weather processes. Rasmussen hopes to conduct follow-up studies that account for shifts in the storm track, which was not reflected in her most recent study.

Anne Manning | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht The Blue Acceleration: Recent colossal rise in human pressure on ocean quantified
27.01.2020 | Stockholm Resilience Centre

nachricht Earth's most biodiverse ecosystems face a perfect storm
27.01.2020 | Lancaster University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Integrate Micro Chips for electronic Skin

Researchers from Dresden and Osaka present the first fully integrated flexible electronics made of magnetic sensors and organic circuits which opens the path towards the development of electronic skin.

Human skin is a fascinating and multifunctional organ with unique properties originating from its flexible and compliant nature. It allows for interfacing with...

Im Focus: Dresden researchers discover resistance mechanism in aggressive cancer

Protease blocks guardian function against uncontrolled cell division

Researchers of the Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital Dresden at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC), together with an international...

Im Focus: New roles found for Huntington's disease protein

Crucial role in synapse formation could be new avenue toward treatment

A Duke University research team has identified a new function of a gene called huntingtin, a mutation of which underlies the progressive neurodegenerative...

Im Focus: A new look at 'strange metals'

For years, a new synthesis method has been developed at TU Wien (Vienna) to unlock the secrets of "strange metals". Now a breakthrough has been achieved. The results have been published in "Science".

Superconductors allow electrical current to flow without any resistance - but only below a certain critical temperature. Many materials have to be cooled down...

Im Focus: Programmable nests for cells

KIT researchers develop novel composites of DNA, silica particles, and carbon nanotubes -- Properties can be tailored to various applications

Using DNA, smallest silica particles, and carbon nanotubes, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) developed novel programmable materials....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

„Advanced Battery Power“- Conference, Contributions are welcome!

07.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Towards better anti-cancer drugs: New insights into CDK8, an important human oncogene

28.01.2020 | Life Sciences

Rice lab turns trash into valuable graphene in a flash

28.01.2020 | Materials Sciences

AI can jump-start radiation therapy for cancer patients

28.01.2020 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>