Last year’s run of deadly thunderstorms across the U.S. was no fluke, scientists say. Yep, blame global warming.
And you can expect more, and larger, storms to come.
Scientists for the first time have linked global warming to the intensity and frequency of thunderstorms. The academic article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is here, but Quartz has posted a piece covering the highlights, including a description of the science involved:
Such storms typically are strongest in the spring, but as the planet warms, those storms will also increasingly strike in the autumn and the winter between 2070 and 2099, states the report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study found that severe thunderstorms will also hit the Midwest and Great Plains regions of the US with greater frequency.
And don’t take solace in the idea that you’ll be dead when the big ones hit. Even if the world gets its act together and cuts carbon emissions now, there’s enough heat baked into the atmosphere from centuries of industrial spew to spawn super storms in decades to come, according to Noah Diffenbaugh, an associate professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford and the study’s lead author.
But there’s hope for future generations if temperatures are kept in check. “Curbing the increase in emissions would affect the magnitude of the increase of storms in the late 21st century,” Diffenbaugh told Quartz.
Without changes, the report predicted a 40 percent increase in massive thunderstorms rolling through the eastern U.S. by the year 2070.
Worldwide, as we’ve told you before, some 84 percent of people believe weather patterns will worsen with global warming-driven climate change. In the U.S., though, more people have begun to doubt what 97 percent of scientists say is a certainty.
Chances are you won’t find too many climate-change deniers in Moore, Okla., hit by a rare and deadly EF5 tornado in May, or in north-central Colorado, recently ravaged by historic flooding.
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
NOAA Photo Library; OAR/ERL/NSSL