Researchers led by scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science have reported in a new study that appeared in the journal Nature Climate Change that changes in climatic conditions might be taking place more rapidly than expected.
Findings suggest swift intervention is now required to prevent what looks bleaker climate-wise in years to come.
This research revealed a significant increase in the intensity of winter storms that occur in the Southern Hemisphere. Scientists found that storm intensification has now gotten to levels earlier expected by 2080.
“A winter storm is a weather phenomenon that lasts only a few days,” explained Weizmann Institute researcher Dr. Rei Chemke, who led the study. “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.”
These storms impact heat, moisture, and momentum transfer within the atmosphere, according to Chemke. And the effects extend to different Earth climate zones. The impact of these storms, talking cumulatively, is substantial.
Researchers from Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were also among those who took part in this study.
Rapid climate change
The scientists at the frontline of climate research make use of elaborate computer networks, which run computational models that unite to create the planet’s climate. Weizmann Institute of Science and other foremost research institutes around the world analyze data produced by these models to forecast future climate change and guide policies.
Chemke studies the physical mechanisms that are responsible for large-scale climate change in his lab. His research team set out in this study to probe if human activity and other external factors were responsible for climate pattern changes or whether the changes were the results of internal variability in the global climate system.
The researchers analyzed climate model simulations of storm intensification patterns induced only by internal climatic causes. What they found was that storm escalation over the last 20 years has been more rapid than what internal causes only can account for.
The study also threw light on what current climate models could not explain well, by revealing the underlying physical process. Chemke and his fellow researchers found that atmospheric jet stream changes seen in recent decades played a major part in storm intensification.
What this means
The researchers noted that their study has two direct and important implications.
The first is that findings show that human activity might more greatly impact the Southern Hemisphere than previously predicted. And that’s in addition to showing that climate projections for decades to come are gloomier than existing estimations suggested.
The second implication is a need to correct the bias in climate models for them to be more helpful to researchers. This would support more accurate projections with these models going forward.
Existing climate models had projected winter storm intensification driven by human activity to occur toward the end of the current century. But those levels appear to have now already been reached.
Chemke stated that the team chose the Southern Hemisphere for this research because it had recorded stronger storm intensification, compared to the Northern Hemisphere. The latter seemed to have slower intensification even though it was not examined, he said.
The findings suggest the considerable threat that winter storms pose to people in the Southern Hemisphere in the decades coming up. They imply an urgent need for crucial climate change intervention in the area.