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Thunder storms to become more severe with climate change


Clouds gather over apartment buildings ahead of a thunderstorm on the east side of Manhattan July 26, 2012 in New York.


Stan Honda

Climate change will lead to more severe thunder storms and the damage they cause, according to new research.

American researchers looked at complex physics-based climate models to get their findings, which are focused on the eastern United States.

The scientists point out there are two ingredients involved in storms: convective available potential energy (CAPE), created as air in the low atmosphere warms; and the vertical wind shear that gives the storm staying power.

The models show a decrease in wind shear but on days that don't have storm potential.

They also show an increase in CAPE due to the latter's decrease, which increases the occurence of severe thunder storms.

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“Although the climate model experiment does indicate an overall decrease in the average amount of wind shear, the researchers found that the bulk of that decrease occurs on days that produce levels of CAPE that are much lower than is normally seen during severe storms,” the Stanford researchers said in a statement.

“The net effect is that the increases in CAPE on other days drive increases in the occurrence of severe thunderstorm environments.”

The findings are worrying given the environmental, as well as economic consequences of more weather disasters.

In 2012, there were 11 storms that cost more than one billion dollars

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.