Global warming to cause more severe thunderstorms, reports NASA
August 31, 2007
Global warming will increase the incidence of severe storms and tornados, report NASA scientists.
Tony Del Genio, Mao-Sung Yao, and Jeff Jonas at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies have developed the first model estimates how the strength of storms will change in a warming climate.
The model predicts that while stronger and more severe storms can be expected in a warmer climate, fewer storms will form overall. The model assumed a hypothetical future climate with double the current carbon dioxide level and a surface that is an average of 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the current climate.
Screenshot from an animation showing clouds over North America on August 2, 2000, as measured by GOES-11. Credit: NASA/NOAA.
“The study found that continents warm more than oceans and that the altitude at which lightning forms rises to a level where the storms are usually more vigorous,” explained a statement from NASA. “These effects combine to cause more of the continental storms that form in the warmer climate to resemble the strongest storms we currently experience.”
“In the warmer climate simulation there is a small class of the most extreme storms with both strong updrafts and strong horizontal winds at higher levels that occur more often, and thus the model suggests that the most violent severe storms and tornadoes may become more common with warming.”
The research was published August 17 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters