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NASA scientists have developed a new model that is among the first to simulate the strength of updrafts in storms. This model was applied to a global warming scenario to give a possible peek at what future weather might look like

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies is a leading research center, located in New York, which studies Earth's past, present and future climates.

The Institute has recently announced a new study which discusses what future storms might look like in a global warming scenario.

NASA's scientists at the Institute developed a new climate model for the study.  The model is among the first to successfully simulate the strength of updrafts in storms.  This allows the model to give a more complete picture of the strength of storms that are occurring around the world, and those that may someday occur.

The model is the first to successfully simulate the observed difference between land and sea storms.  It also is the first model to simulate how the strength of storms may change in a warming environment.

The model is run over regions several hundred miles wide.  It does not directly simulate thunderstorms and lightning, but instead identifies conditions conducive to producing storms of varying strengths.

The model was applied to a future scenario in which the temperature had risen 5 degrees and CO2 levels in the air had doubled.  This simulation found that the land would be warmed more than the sea, and that thunderstorms on land would be produced at higher altitudes than they are today, leading to higher intensity.

The model predicts that some regions will have less humid climates, which would indicate fewer thunderstorms.  However, Anthony Del Genio, Ph.D., lead author illustrates why this scenario may be more dangerous, particularly to western wildfire-prone states:
"These findings may seem to imply that fewer storms in the future will be good news for disastrous western U.S. wildfires, but drier conditions near the ground combined with higher lightning flash rates per storm may end up intensifying wildfire damage instead"
Central and Eastern U.S. are particularly prone to severe thunderstorms.  These storms arise when strong updrafts combine with horizontal winds to produce thunderstorms and deadly tornados.  The study indicates that this most extreme class of storms will become increasingly common, in these areas, with warming.

These increases in storm severity are due to two factors.  First, the land warms more than the sea, respectively.  Second the freezing level, will raise to a higher altitude, where stronger updrafts are present.  These factors are both common to all climate change simulations, but this is the first simulation to explore their effects on storm intensity.

A movie of cloud cover in 2000 generated from data from the GOES-11 satellite, which was used to verify the model, is posted on NASA's website.


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RE: The usual suspects?
By masher2 (blog) on 9/4/2007 2:22:04 PM , Rating: 1
> "If this study had shown no significant differences, I can almost guarantee you would have posted it yourself talking about how global warming wasn't a big deal."

In addition to Tom's points, I have to point out the flaw in the above reasoning. Let's say we're discussing a car with a top speed of 90mph. Someone releases a study that shows that car is unsafe in a 125 mph collision. The obvious reply to that is, "ok...but is that even relevant"?

But now, lets say a study shows that car IS safe in collisions at that speed. If true, then its certainly safe in less severe accidents, and thus the study results are very relevant. The same situation exists here...if a study shows no meteorological changes from a 10 degree rise, that's big news, because it means no changes should be expected from the much smaller rises we're likely to see.

In any case, I'm not discounting the results of the study. I think they're very likely accurate. What I dispute is the conclusion that it implies any serious problem. In 150 years, some areas of the planet will be a little less stormy, some a little more stormy. Roughly half those areas will benefit slightly from the change, and half will suffer slightly. It's just not a big problem.


RE: The usual suspects?
By smitty3268 on 9/4/2007 3:51:54 PM , Rating: 2
That's a very different argument from the one many people were making - that GISS is just a political organization that was putting out FUD. It's also one I think has more merit. Anyway, this whole global warming thing has turned into a psychological experiment. Half of us think we should prepare for the worst, while the other half are optimists who think everything will work out well in the end.


RE: The usual suspects?
By TomZ on 9/4/2007 8:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not so sure it's either-or as you imply. Let's start with Michael's example, suppose Ford does a study on a particular GM vehicle and finds it is unsafe at 125MPH. Ford then publishes that study as part of an advertising campaign.

Aside from the obvious logical folly in the study, wouldn't you consider it FUD? In other words, why would Ford do such a study in the first place, since nobody is going to drive the GM vehicle at 125?

Now, assuming that GISS is a "global warming advocate," how is the situation with this report any different than the example I gave?


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