Will climate change drive tornado activity? | | WGN Radio 720

(WFLA) – Recent devastating tornado outbreaks southeast and Midwest It was life-changing and sometimes fatal for those caught in the storm’s path. Scientists fear this is just the beginning of a trend of stronger outbreaks in the future. because of the warm weather.

But how will climate change affect tornado frequency, and what is projected for the future?

Looking at the NOAA graph above, it’s clear that the number of tornadoes has increased over the last few decades. At first glance, it may appear to be related to a corresponding temperature increase over the same period. However, correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

The increasing trend in tornado occurrence is likely due to better observations and better Doppler radar.In other words, more people see them or detect them with technology.

in fact you eliminate weak tornadoes The record shows that the upward trend has leveled off, indicating that weak tornadoes that were previously missed or underreported are now being detected.

It should also be noted that there is no trend in tornado intensity.if you see record, the tornado may actually look a little weaker. However, this is likely due to changes in methods for evaluating tornadoes over the years, exaggerating the strength of past tornadoes.

The overarching theme when looking at past tornadoes is that it is difficult to reliably capture trends in tornado numbers and intensity because records are dubious and subjective.

But we are more certain about some aspects of the relationship between climate change and tornadoes: geographic change and occurrence.

a 2018 survey We found an increase in tornado frequency in locations such as the East of the Mississippi River, the Mid-South, the Deep South, and the Southeast. At the same time, tornado numbers are declining in the more traditional “tornado alleys” of the Plains States, west of the Mississippi River.

This tornado’s eastward trend is consistent with climate change, with the southwestern United States getting warmer and drier, and the southeast getting wetter due to the rapid warming of the Gulf of Mexico.

The dry-wet air contrast zone, which serves as the initiation zone for supercell thunderstorms, has moved eastward in recent decades. (WFLA)

a 2018 research paper We have proven this concept. The authors found that the 100th meridian, the statistical division between dry and wet areas in central plains province, has shifted. 140 miles in the last 40 years.

(Seagar et al. 2018/WFLA)

As the southwestern United States dries up due to increased heating and evaporation, dry air is invading the plains further east. Additionally, the Gulf of Mexico is warming twice as fast as her global average for oceans, which provides extra energy and water for extreme weather events.

research We also found that tornadoes are becoming more frequent. Simply put, days when the atmosphere is favorable for outbreaks result in more tornadoes in those outbreaks. Conversely, there are fewer tornado days overall.In other words Tornadoes are more dense in fewer days.

Looking to the future, these trends are likely to continue.a new research paper Announced in January of this year, the trend of supercell growth is also likely to continue in the eastern United States and decline in the Great Plains. Will climate change drive tornado activity? | | WGN Radio 720

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