Climate Change May Play A Role In Tornado Strength

Climate change is a hot topic in the scientific community, and now a new study suggests that it may be having a significant impact on weather in the U.S. Professor James Eisner conducted the he study, which was published in the journal Climate Dynamics this week.

Climate Change May Play A Role In Tornado Strength

Climate change affecting tornado trends

Previously, many researchers believed that climate change wasn’t really impacting tornado frequency or severity in the U.S. According to Eisner, they didn’t see a particular pattern regarding how many tornado days there were in a year. For example, in 1971, there were 187 days on which tornadoes occurred in the U.S., but last year, only 79 days had tornadoes. In 2011, there were almost 1,700 storms during tornado season. So far this year, there have been 189 storms.

However, Eisner said he found that as time goes on, the type of storms that form and also the number of storms that happen on a particular day have increased in severity. He said that now when there is a risk of severe weather, meteorologists and also the public should realize that rather than just a single storm, there now could be multiple storms on the same day. In addition, he said that the tornadoes that do form tend to be more severe than they were in the past.

According to Eisner, the reason for these changes in tornado patterns may be because of the changing moisture content and heat in the atmosphere, which is caused by climate change. He did add though that a greater number of people watching for tornadoes could be contributing to the increase in the number of tornadoes. However, the findings of his study are not unlike those in studies that have shown that the number of heavy downpours is on the rise as well.

Tornado outbreaks becoming more common

To conduct the study, Eisner and his team focused on days with at least four, eight, 16 and 32 tornadoes. They discovered that the number of days with at least four tornadoes was falling. However, the number of days with at least 16 and 32 tornadoes has risen within the last 60 years. They found a significant increase since 1980.

Over the entire time frame, the researchers discovered that the odds of a day in which there are 32 tornadoes or more occurring has more than doubled, although it’s still pretty rare for that to happen.

A bit of good news

Eisner did say that climate change doesn’t appear to be affecting the number of geographic areas that are most often impacted by tornadoes. He said the number of tornado-prone areas in the U.S., like the so-called “tornado alley” in the lower Midwest and Great Plains regions, doesn’t appear to be increasing.

  • CB

    …except that’s not necessarily true. Farms are far larger today and worked by far fewer people, so there are not necessarily more people living in places where tornadoes most frequently hit.

    If you understand global warming adds energy to the atmosphere, and you understand this energy is what causes tornadoes to form, why wouldn’t you think global warming is causing more tornadoes?

    What’s more likely, that the scientists who actually study the subject are correct?

    …or that you are?

  • mememine

    “MAY” play a role?

    Do you remaining “believers” even know what science “believes” in?
    How is 32 years of nothing beyond science’s laughable; 95% certainty and never saying “proven” or “100%” or “inevitable” or “eventual” supposed to be “clear” that we need to SAVE THE PLANET?
    97.6% of scientists are only 95% certain not that it WILL be but just “could be” and prove they have ever “believed” beyond that. A mob of determined “believers” do not determine certainty.

  • Unlicensed Dremel

    OK, I’ll buy that – thank you sir.

  • bobcat4424

    Naw — deniers don’t have that good of aim when they are showing the stones.

  • bobcat4424

    This is because AGQ increases the amount of moisture in the atmosphere and the temperature delta between warm and cold air masses. It is this difference in temperatures (which is increasing) that causes more serious tornado outbreaks. And warmer air can carry more moisture than colder air. This is why there is an increase in major rainfall and winter precipitation incidents.
    But under milder conditions — the ones that produce lower-powered singleton tornados, the warmer aid can mean less delta between the air masses as the local cold air is tending to be warmer. So you get fewer of the isolated local tornados.
    What this study did was to separate the lower-powered storms that produce only isolated tornados from the major storms that produce scads of major tornados. (I live in Tuscaloosa so this is of major interest to me.) It appears that storms that produce few tornados act dramatically differently from major storms that can brew scores of tornados. It isn’t implausible, but does illustrate how complex weather and climate are.

  • ThinkAboutIt

    Don’t worry. These scientists were stoned when they researched and wrote the report.

  • Unlicensed Dremel

    So the assertion is that CC causes: (1) Fewer tornado-producing storms per year, but (2) More storms per day when storms do form, and (3) more severe storms when storms do form. Is that the correct summary? Doesn’t seem very plausible. #2 and #3 would seem plausible, if #1 weren’t true. But I don’t see how they can co-exist. If there’s more moisture, that’s gonna cause more storms too, ain’t it? I dunno; maybe not.

  • ThinkAboutIt

    Did you factor in the numerous changes and effect of the sun, external gamma rays and other space forces ? (All totally observable, but, rare to have scientists point out their huge effect on Earth’s climate and weather) Probably not!

    The most powerful effect on the Earth’s weather is born from outside our atmosphere!! Stop putting all the blame on people!!! Climate change is normal. Mostly effected by things outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Are you willing to factor that in your report. Apparently not. Scientists are learning about tornadoes still and do not have a clear definitive handle on them in many ways.

  • Miles O’Toole

    Absolutely ridiculous assertions with no meaningful scientific data. Of course there are more people living in areas that were once unpopulated. Back then when a tornado occurred, Ma and Pa were hunkered down in the cellar, and after the tornado passed, they were busy cleaning up. Now days that kids are standing on the porch of their suburban home taking video with there smartphones and posting it to Facebook, Twitter, and Vine within seconds of it occurring. There are more people with better means of communication living in areas where these storms have historically hit. But, instead let’s focus on the “Global Warming” message. Nice.