Tornado Outbreaks In US Are Getting Worse – But No One Knows Why

Posted: Dec 2 2016, 5:39pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 2 2016, 6:02pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Tornado Outbreaks in US are Getting Worse – But No One Know Why
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Researchers are not blaming climate change for this upward trend

Severe tornado outbreaks in United States are increasing with time, but no one really knows why. This is a thing that has left even the researchers baffled.

According to a latest research, the most extreme outbreaks have doubled since mid-1950s. Some of those tornadoes occured on their own but many were linked with extreme outbreaks that spawn multiple tornadoes. However, the upward trend does not seem to be directly related to climate change.

When researchers from Colombia Engineering sift through the tornado statistics from 1965 through 2015, they identified 435 extreme outbreaks. But the surprising thing was that the number of outbreaks has not changed with every year but the total number of tornadoes caused by those outbreaks increased dramatically over time. In 1965, the worst outbreak triggered 40 tornadoes but the number rose to 80 clusters of tornadoes in 2015.

“This study raises new questions about what climate change will do to severe thunderstorms and what is responsible for recent trends. The fact that we don’t see the presently understood meteorological signature of global warming in changing outbreak statistics leaves two possibilities: either the recent increases are not due to a warming climate, or a warming climate has implications for tornado activity that we don’t understand. This is an unexpected finding.” Lead researcher Michael Tippett associate professor of applied physics and applied mathematics at Columbia Engineering said.

Tornados kill hundreds of people every year and damage billions of dollars worth properties.The increase in number of more severe tornadoes is concerning for everyone.

In an effort to learn more about tornadoes, researchers looked at two data sets from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). One included reports about tornados while the other provided an estimate of meteorological factors associated with tornado outbreaks.

“We've used new statistical tools that haven't been used before to put tornadoes under the microscope. The findings are surprising. We found that, over the last half century or so, the more extreme the tornado outbreaks, the faster the numbers of such extreme outbreaks have been increasing,” said co-author Joel Cohen.

“What's pushing this rise in extreme outbreaks is far from obvious in the present state of climate science. Viewing the thousands of tornadoes that have been reliably recorded in the U.S. over the past half century or so as a population has permitted us to ask new questions and discover new, important changes in outbreaks of these tornadoes.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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