By Jaimee Bruce
New statistical methods have revealed what’s in store for the U.S. in terms of storm intensity and size. Researchers from the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory predict that though storms in the U.S. will be more powerful, they will have a smaller radius.
In a research published in Journal of Climate, the new approach was used to identify and track storm features in both observational weather data and new high-resolution climate modeling simulations.
“Climate models all predict that storms will grow significantly more intense in the future, but that total precipitation will increase more mildly over what we see today,” according to senior author Elisabeth Moyer. An associate professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, she is also a co-director of the Center for Robust Decision-Making on Climate and Energy Policy. “By developing new statistical methods that study the properties of individual rainstorms, we were able to detect changes in storm frequency, size, and duration that explain this mismatch.”
Climate change has brought on increased temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns and has also resulted in more droughts and flooding. Most climate models predict that high levels of atmospheric carbon will increase precipitation intensity by an average of approximately 6 percent per degree temperature rise. More recently, high-resolution simulations have begun to approach weather-scale, but analytic approaches had not yet evolved to make use of that information and evaluated only aggregate shifts in precipitation patterns instead of individual storms.
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