Sunday, June 30, 2013

A link between climate change and tornadoes?

This comment gave me an excuse to revisit this page.  

Anonymous writes: "perhaps you have not seen these graphs of tornado activity: i see no obvious tend in overall activity, but a clear drop in extreme tornado activity."
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How is someone supposed to respond to that?  A, you can't find any clear understanding by looking at one graph.  You need to make the effort to understand how the entire global heat distribution engine is evolving.

Anonymous thinks there's a clear drop in extreme tornado activity, but experts who track weather full time, have a different story to share.  Instead of just reaching for one handy-dandy looking graph to make your point, spend some time looking around that site and learn.  This link will take you to the report for January 2012, quite the extreme month.

I'm sure you'd tell me that 2012 turned out to be a very quite year tornado wise... but that's only true if you stay south of the border, Canada had a very extreme year - Saskatchewan experienced three times the normal number of tornadoes.  And then there was that wild June 2012 Derecho to remind us that there's more than tornadoes coming our way.

Here's an informative article by Seth Borenstein if you want an overview of what the scientists do and don't understand at this point:
Could global warming change tornado season, too?
Speaking of more than tornadoes to worry about:
Global warming is likely to increase severe thunderstorm conditions in U.S., research finds
Also see: 
State of the Climate

{added these comments 1/29/2014}

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Two years old and two more years worth of extreme weather events to add to the list.  Here's a look at just the tornado record.
Tornadoes 2011
Tornadoes 2012
Tornadoes 2013

Think about some of the things happen on this planet - Arctic Ice Cap turning into a heat absorption plate, causing evaporating and forming massive unprecedented (at least in many thousands of years) convection patterns, disrupting traditional atmospheric behavior, and impacting the jet stream, that fast moving barrier between cold arctic air masses and warmer mid latitude air masses.

This shift is accompanied by Arctic warming which is decreasing the temperature gradient between the tropics and arctic - further impacting the flow of the jet stream.  Current heat waves are a reflection of that disrupted jet stream stalling, rather than flowing.  Given that the entire atmosphere where tornadoes form is undergoing a radical shift from historic conditions - it stands to reason that increasingly extreme tornado events are indeed related to global warming.

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with Peter Sinclair
Don’t Miss this Video: “A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never.”
June 8, 2011

Peter Sinclair writes: Damn I wish I’d done this.
The video takes Bill Mckibben’s recent editorial from the Washington Post, sets it to music and powerful video of the last year’s weather events. 

If you haven’t seen the editorial, give that a look first.

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Now back to that business about our melting Arctic Ice Cap, the jet stream and cascading consequences:

Arctic Amplification (Extreme Weather): Jennifer Francis June 6, 2013

ClimateState  |  29:23  |  Dr. Jennifer Francis

Published on Jun 23, 2013  Follow ClimateState on facebook for more climate research 
This video is part of a Climate Desk event "Climate Desk Live 06/06/13: The Alarming Science Behind Climate Change's Increasingly Wild Weather" featuring top climate researcher Jennifer Francis. 
Watch the full event (including Stu Ostro on atmospheric thickness) here 
Event website 
For more detail on Francis's research, see: 
Arctic Warming Favors Extreme, Prolonged Weather Events 'Such As Drought, Flooding, Cold Spells And Heat Waves' 
NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather 
How Arctic Ice Loss Amplified Superstorm Sandy — Oceanography Journal

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

perhaps you have not seen these graphs of tornado activity:

i see no obvious tend in overall activity, but a clear drop in extreme tornado activity.