Global warming to boost severe thunderstorms in NYC, Atlanta
December 3, 2007
Global warming could lead to weather conditions that spawn severe thunderstorms in the United States, according to research appearing in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Using global climate models and a high-resolution regional climate model to examine how storm energy and wind shear–key measures of thunderstorm environments–will respond to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, Robert Trapp of Purdue University and colleagues found that densely populated regions of the southern and eastern parts of the U.S. may be especially affected by severe thunderstorm formation. The researchers say their analysis suggests a doubling of severe thunderstorms in Atlanta and New York City and indicates a likely increase in “high-impact weather such as destructive surface winds, hail, and tornadoes.”
Forecast number of severe thunderstorm environment days (NDSEV) in (h) 2072-2099 compared with the observed number of severe thunderstorm environment days from (d) 1962-1989
The researchers say that reduced emissions could mitigate the projected increases in severe weather.
“These results are based largely on one emissions scenario. A range of global emissions pathways is still possible, and reduced emissions could in turn reduce the increases in severe thunderstorm environment occurrence projected here,” the authors write.