Scientists generally agree that climate change will increase the likelihood of extreme weather events, but the jury is still out on how tornadoes will fare in a warming world. Tornadoes are fickle beasts, and it remains tough to predict a tornado a week from now, much less what they might be like over the next few years.
"The most common finding is a warming environment leads to more storms and more intense storms, but intensity doesn't necessarily mean organizing and producing tornadoes," says Grady Dixon, an associate professor of geosciences at Mississippi State University who studies tornado climatology. "It takes a certain interaction."
Jeff Trapp, a professor of atmospheric science at Purdue University, says that while it's unclear how the intensity or frequency of tornadoes will increase, there may be more days featuring conditions ripe for twisters. "We would see an increase in the number of days that could be favorable for severe thunderstorm and tornado formation," he says. The tornado season, which varies by region, could be expanded.
In yet another theory, Harold Brooks of the National Weather Center recently told the AP that there could be a sort of condensing effect--more tornadoes occurring on fewer days of the year.
Tornado patterns have been especially wonky as of late: 2011 marked the second-deadliest tornado season for the U.S., with 1,700 tornadoes (including the particularly destructive Joplin one) and 553 deaths, according to the AP. And then, after an early start to the tornado season in 2012, the numbers reversed. The period between May 2012 and April 2013 featured the fewest tornadoes on record and the second-lowest death toll, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's U.S. Severe Weather Blog.
It's also difficult to discern whether we're seeing more tornadoes in recent years, or if awareness of them has just gone up. Since the 1990s, Dixon says, there's been an increase in tornadoes in the Midwest and northern Great Plains region and a decrease in the southern Great Plains, but that could be merely a result of better reporting.
Oklahoma is a magnet for tornadoes because it's right at the convergence point where humid air from the Gulf of Mexico collides with cooler air from the high terrain of Mexico and the Rocky Mountains. Tornadoes require strong upper level winds, up to three miles above the ground, to contrast with slower currents near ground level in what's called wind shear. It often occurs when warm temperatures from the south run into colder temperatures from the north.
A warming climate creates warmer temperatures in the north, so in that respect, decreasing wind shear, so it could actually lead to fewer tornadoes, according to Dixon.
However, another factor suggests that climate change will do the exact opposite. Convective available potential energy, or CAPE--essentially the amount of energy that's available to for storms--is determined by moisture and temperature differences between the ground and higher regions of the atmosphere. "The CAPE increases with time in a globally warmed world, mainly because the temperature near the ground and lower parts of the atmosphere increases and becomes more humid," Trapp says. "In a globally warmed future world, that thunderstorm should be more intense."
Because of these conflicting factors, "what we don't know is how this necessarily affects tornado intensity and frequency," Trapp says.
His research deals with climate change models, which are still very coarse when it comes to tornado prediction--a single pixel can be up to 100 km on a side, while individually storms are typically only half that size. "Where we're going as a community is to try to have climate models that are finer and finer resolution, like how digital cameras have higher and higher resolution," he says. With higher resolution models, researchers hope to be able to analyze storm simulations that would allow them to determine which types of storms form tornadoes with more certainty.
Science can end this costly debate just my saying it WILL be a crisis not MIGHT be a real crisis. Deny that!
If after 28 years of research the scientists still won’t say their crisis is as real as they like to say comet hits are how can it possibly be a real crisis because 28 years of “maybe” proves 100% that it “won’t be” a real crisis.
Science; “Climate change is real and is happening and could, might, possibly, could cause a climate crisis.”
Not one IPCC warning says it will happen or isn’t swimming in “maybes”.
Maybe I should add a 69 to the end of my name so I would sound more legitimate.
So no warming for 20 years, and still we get this? Nice propaganda piece.
"No warming for 20 years". Uh... not according to the evidence. Please provide your data to support that claim.
Was wondering when the pseudoscience was going to weigh in. "Scientists generally agree that climate change will increase the likelihood of extreme weather"
What scientists? two three? Most scientists do not agree on climate change. Most scientists that do agree that its occurring are getting paid to say so either through the lecture circuit or grants and books.
Climate change is a good way for governments to TAX AIR as they already tax water and food all thats left is. AIR.
Actually, they agree on no such thing:
May 10th 2013 USA Today "Tornado activity hits 60 year low"
May 13th BBC News "Climate Slowdown Means Extreme Rates of Warming Not as Likely"
When are we going to get over the fact that we cannot predict what the weather will do and that Global Warming is not an issue.
Measuring tornado severity by casualties (as the article did for 2011) is a comment on population growth, density, and distrabution NOT on the natural disasters themselves.
I don't know what alternate universe you're from, but here on the planet Earth several of the hottest years in recorded history, record-breaker after record-breaker, have happened in the last decade alone.
Actually, large majorities of climatologists agree that global warming is happening, and almost as many think humans are a primary cause. Your claim that they are all corrupt is extremely wanting in evidence.
Always defer to facts rather than philosophy.
Listen to yourself; "recorded history". By that I assume you mean the past hundred years or so of weather history, more than half of which is sketchy, sporadic and down right unreliable at best. Great scientific sampling you got there.
The only thing known to be increasing for sure is population and communication technology, and thereby increasing the reporting of all sorts of events. Using your logic there were no rapes, murders, abortions, cancer, or ZITS prior to "recorded history". What a perfect world we had!!!
Temperatures FAR exceeded today's temps just 1400 years ago when the population and technology was insignificant to climate change. Look it up and explain that with your recorded history. Stop thinking within your measly little lifespan and gimme a break.
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
To all those sanctimonious 'know better' posters who claim GW continues unabated. (especially you J. James)
Consider this: despite the fact that CO2 is now at record levels BBC article points out that warming is not great.
Climate slowdown means extreme rates of warming 'not as likely'
By Matt McGrath
Oh you poor folks who want to try to use scientific data to support your claims (even though the scientific consensus is that man is causing global warming), and then turn around and say these scientists are frauds. See where the problem with that is? You can't just selectively filter out the data to support your own conclusion. As far as direct observation goes, we can look back somewhere around 350 years of temperature data. Beyond that, we have ice cores and other indicators of what atmospheric gases were as well as temperatures. Rather than listen to me regurgitate this information, GO READ ABOUT IT! Stay away from someone's blogspot and read the data presented by actual climatologists. Don't just listen to the handful of deniers because that supports your conclusion. Look to the evidence and how the conclusion is derived from that. There's overwhelming scientific consensus on this no matter how much you stomp your feet and yell, "nuh uh!"
The opening sentence is misleading but the rest of the article is accurate. Well done. Climate scientists and meteorologists don't really know how global warming will affect tornado frequency or destructiveness.
J.James, several of the hottest years in the United States--not the rest of the world--occurred in recent years. However, global temperatures have remained relatively static since 1998 (as measured by satellite). Other parts of the globe experienced cooler temperatures which offset the heat wave in the U.S. Why it was so hot is open to speculation, but it's likely that global warming isn't the reason. The rest of the globe didn't experience record temperatures. Regional temperatures are affected by all kinds of phenomena: ocean circulation, ocean surface temperatures, atmospheric moisture content, jet stream fluctuations, etc.
The NASA page says "there's a high level of agreement among scientists that global warming has made it more likely that heat waves of this magnitude will occur." It was produced by the Goddard Institute, run by James Hansen who is in competition with Al Gore for number of unsupported alarming statements about global warming. In reality, there is a high level of agreement among a small but very vocal group of climate scientists who have demonstrated a willingness to subjugate science to their agenda.
As for "large majorities of climatologists", the recent 2-question survey that claims 97% agreement is based on arbitrarily selecting 77 climate scientists from over 3,000 respondents, almost all in the U.S., of which 75 think humans have a significant effect on global temperatures. 75 people isn't that compelling.
And GGenua, you're partially right on temperatures today as compared to 1400 years ago. Using proxy temperature data (however reliable that is) going back 1400 years we see that temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period, about 1,000 years ago (not 1400) were comparable to today, and may have been slightly higher.
(As noted in a prior comment, please ignore the black line in the graph which represents instrument temperatures superimposed on proxy temperatures (tree rings, ice cores). It's mixing apples and oranges which has the effect of making it seem as if temperatures are rapidly climbing, but in fact the proxy data shows they leveled off or declined.)
Back in 1975, the last time the science was settled and only troglodytes dared question the blessed orthodoxy, we were warned of tornadoes as a consequence of “global cooling,” along with other residual effects, including food shortages. Change cooling to warming and it all sounds so familiar.
But odd and unusual occurrences are proof of global whatever it is this year, right? The town of Cordell Kansas had a tornado hit on May 20th three years in a row (1916...1917...1918). In Guy, Arkansas...three tornadoes hit the same church on the same day. Hmmm... 1916 - 1918, was that global cooling or warming or is it weird, unusual and meaningless?
Agreement, consensus, unusual events and bad data does not make for good science.
Sometimes a tornado is just a tornado.
97% of scientists say man-made climate change is real:
Of course climate change is real and really really slow in the process, which causes a great many to argue it not man made or a real problem.
"SLOW" is such a nuisance and as
problematic as smoking with it causing cancer.
Expect upcoming solar activity to be blamed on "Climate Change"...
“We’re just emerging from a deep solar minimum,” says Russell. “The solar cycle is gaining strength with a maximum expected in 2013.”
Carbon Dioxide protects earth from solar heat blast. Yea, the stuff the EPA declared a "pollutant" saves us. WOW.... may be we were premature in panicking about CO2.
NASA reports says:
“Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,” explains James Russell of Hampton University, SABER’s principal investigator. “When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.”
" Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space."
In 1975, scientists said that increased tornado activity was due to global cooling. This was right after the "super outbreak" happened. So which is it folks? "Oh but that was almost 40 years ago" right? What will be said 40 years from now?
It has a couple of insignificant errors but is basically right.
answer:...NO....the number of active storms they predict for this year are fewer than average...but, they say it will be an ACITVE year....which probably means that there will be one or more....they GUESS...they do not know...there is NO EVIDENCE that there is global warming (in fact the earth has cooled over the last several years)...ergo changing the conversation to:climate change...rather than: global warming....so NOW ...ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS CAN BE CALLED CHANGE!!!....it's political science...and a way to tax the rich and give to the poor...socialism....it is absolute lies.
In 2010 97% of scientists agreed with man made warming or lose grant money if they disagree. All the climate models of the 2003 vintage are all wrong in ten years let alone trying to predict the next 50 years. CO2 has almost zero effect on warming. 450 Million years ago the CO2 levels were 14 times what they are today and the earth went into an ice age. All the plots of Temperature and CO2 vs time show that CO2 lags the Temperature by many years. Warmer temperature cause the CO2 level to increase, because the warmer seas give up CO2 to the air.
CO2 is a “trace gas” in air, insignificant by definition. It absorbs 1/7th as much IR, heat energy, from sunlight as water vapor which has 80 times as many molecules capturing 560 times as much heat making 99.8% of all "global warming." CO2 does only 0.2% of it. For this we should destroy our economy?
Carbon combustion generates 80% of our energy. Control and taxing of carbon would give the elected ruling class more power and money than anything since the Magna Carta of 1215 AD.
See The Two Minute Conservative via Google then when you speak ladies will swoon and liberal gentlemen will weep.
Please! Global Warming, AKA Climate Change, is the snake oil of modern pseudo science! Too warm, Global Warming. Too cold, GW. No storms, GW. Too many storms, GW. Please!
Greater population density means tornadoes hit more built-up areas. Comparative measurement models shouldn't use amount of property damage and even lives lost.
with a year in oceanography and a year in weather in high school I quite aware of what warm temp can do to storms and why tornadoes are the strongest in the mid-west which is simply they need a mix of very cold air and very warm air to maximize their potential. It also why Florida is well south and warmer has never had a tornado over F2 which mostly occur during or Hurricanes as we simply do not have a supply of that real cold air ever. And one thing they idiots that think we need more time to study should learn one fact local weather is not global weather and global weather is warming at an alarming rate so much so we now have a shipping lane from Europe to china over Russia which was impossible just 20 years ago
Let's see, what can we use as a "crisis" to get power and money that will never end? Hmmm....I've got it! Climate change!
Will global warming spawn more tornados (and hurricanes)? Answer: Yes. One thing cannot be denied: the world is getting warmer. Glaciers and icecaps are melting worldwide simply because summers are warmer farther north. Tornados are spawned by cumulo-nimbus super-cell clouds. These are generated by updrafts from the Earth's surface - thermals, they're called. As the air gets warmer and the land hotter, the thermals get larger and stronger producing larger and more violent super cells, and from them, larger and more violent tornados. Super cells are gigantic heat engines. More heat means more powerful engines. Are we causing it? Well, I don't know but five billion people worldwide do produce a lot of heat. Aside from body heat, we insist on cooking our food and keeping warm in the wintertime. Draw your own conclusions.
View this if you're one of those people who want to compare the effects of CO2 versus water vapor.
The facts do NOT support the AGW supporter link you gave.
See the link I posted earlier:
Your thoughts on this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ6Z04VJDco