Israeli study: Climate change is already causing storm levels expected only in 2080

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An Israeli study released on Thursday found that climate change is already causing a “significant intensification” of winter storms in the Southern Hemisphere to a level not expected before 2080.

The study published by the Weizmann Institute of Science in the journal Nature Climate Change is part of an effort by scientists around the world to use 30 massive and complex computer networks to better model and predict climate change.

The study, which compared previous forecasts of intensification of human-caused winter storms in the Southern Hemisphere with current observations of the storms, found the “grim” reality to be much worse than expected.

“It has become clear that the intensification of storms over the past decades has already reached the levels predicted for the year 2080,” said a statement from the institute.

The study, led by Dr. Rei Chemke of Weizmann’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in collaboration with Dr. Yi Ming of Princeton University and Dr. Janni Yuval of MIT, “shows that current climate models severely underestimate the intensification of mid-latitude storm tracks over the past few decades,” the report said.

“A winter storm is a weather phenomenon that lasts only a few days. Individually, each storm does not have much climatic weight. However, the long-term effect of winter storms becomes evident when evaluating cumulative data collected over long periods of time,” Chemke said, explaining that storms affect the transfer of heat, moisture and momentum in the atmosphere, which consequently affects the different climates. areas on Earth.

“An example of this is the role storms play in regulating temperature at the Earth’s poles. Winter storms are responsible for the majority of heat transport from the tropics to the poles,” he said, noting that without their contribution, average temperatures at the poles would be around 30°C (54°F) lower. ).

Dr. Rei Chemke with an illustration illustrating future changes in Earth’s surface temperature by the end of the 21st century, as predicted by climate models (Courtesy/Weizmann Institute)

Chemke also noted that current trends pose “a real and significant threat to societies in the Southern Hemisphere over the coming decades.”

The study says it only looked at storms in the Southern Hemisphere because intensification there has so far been stronger than in the north. However, Chemke said if the trend continues “we will see a greater intensification of winter storms here in the years and decades to come.”

The study also looked at whether these sudden changes could be attributed to natural shifts in weather patterns or were caused by external factors such as human activity and found that over the past 20 years storms have intensified faster than can be explained by internal climatic behavior alone. , the statement said.

The study also looked at why current models were unable to accurately predict storm changes and found that this was due to changes in atmospheric jet streams.

However, the study found that while there were problems predicting these specific events, most current computer models of climate change were accurate.

“The models do a very good job of predicting almost all parameters,” Chemke said. “We discovered a parameter for which the sensitivity of the models must be adjusted. Changes in temperature, precipitation, sea ice, and summer storm patterns, for example, are all accurately simulated.

Still, the research findings are alarming, according to the study, noting that climate projections for the coming decades are more severe than previous assessments, and in this case with dire implications for the southern hemisphere.

“This means that a quick and decisive response is needed to stop climate damage in this region,” the statement said.

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