In collaboration with scientists from Princeton University and MIT, a study led by the Weizmann Institute of Science shows that storms are intensifying in Southern mid-latitudes in recent decades, reaching levels projected to happen in 2080; however, current climate models gravely underestimate this.
The study, “The intensification of winter mid-latitude storm tracks in the Southern Hemisphere”, published in Nature Climate Journal on 26 May 2020, is part of an effort by scientists worldwide to use 30 massive and complex networks of computers to improve climate change modelling and projection.
Dr Rei Chemke of Weizmann’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, who led the study, says, “A winter storm is a weather phenomenon that lasts only a few days. Individually, each storm doesn’t carry much climatic weight. However, the long-term effect of winter storms becomes evident when assessing cumulative data collected over long periods of time” (Israeli study, 2022).
Chemke explains that storms transfer the heat, moisture, and momentum within the atmosphere, affecting various climate zones.
Winter storms regulate the temperature at the earth’s poles but transport the heat from the tropical regions towards it, and without this phenomenon, average pole temperatures would be about 30°C (54°F) lower.
The study also looked into whether natural changes in the climate patterns or external factors like human activity influence this sudden climate change and finds that the intensification of storms in the past 20 years cannot be explained by natural climatic patterns alone, implying that human activity has a role to play in it.
The current trend of intensifying winter storms in the Southern Hemisphere, which the study finds is far stronger than in the north, poses a real and significant threat to societies in the region in the following decades. Chemke warns that rapid and decisive intervention is needed to stop this climate damage.
The study says that it is critical to accurately assess the impacts of anthropogenic emissions on these storms to improve societal preparedness for future changes.
To read the entire study, click the link provided in the “Source” section below.
Chemke, R., Ming, Y. & Yuval, J. The intensification of winter mid-latitude storm tracks in the Southern Hemisphere. Nat. Clim. Chang. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-022-01368-8
Israeli study: Climate change already causing storm levels only expected in 2080. (2022 27 May). The Times of Israel. Retrieved from https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-study-climate-change-already-causing-storm-levels-only-expected-in-2080/