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The Realization of Extreme Tornadic Storm Events under Future Anthropogenic Climate Change

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
  • 2 Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
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Abstract

This research seeks to answer the basic question of how current-day extreme tornadic storm events might be realized under future anthropogenic climate change. The pseudo global warming (PGW) methodology was adapted for this purpose. Three contributions to the CMIP5 archive were used to obtain the mean 3D atmospheric state simulated during May 1990–99 and May 2090–99. The climate change differences (or Δs) in temperature, relative humidity, pressure, and winds were added to NWP analyses of three high-end tornadic storm events, and this modified atmospheric state was then used for initial and boundary conditions for real-data WRF Model simulations of the events at high resolution. Comparison of an ensemble of these simulations with control simulations (CTRL) facilitated assessment of PGW effects.

In contrast to the robust development of supercellular convection in each CTRL, the combined effects of increased convective inhibition (CIN) and decreased parcel lifting under PGW led to a failure of convection initiation in many of the experiments. Those experiments that had sufficient matching between the CIN and lifting tended to generate stronger convective updrafts than CTRL, although not in proportion to the projected higher levels of convective available potential energy (CAPE) under PGW. In addition, the experiments with enhanced updrafts also tended to have enhanced vertical rotation. In fact, such supercellular convection was even found in simulations that were driven with PGW-reduced environmental wind shear. Notably, the PGW modifications did not induce a change in the convective morphology in any of the PGW experiments with significant convective storminess.

Corresponding author address: Robert J. Trapp, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, UIUC, 105 S. Gregory St., Urbana, IL 61801. E-mail: jtrapp@illinois.edu

Abstract

This research seeks to answer the basic question of how current-day extreme tornadic storm events might be realized under future anthropogenic climate change. The pseudo global warming (PGW) methodology was adapted for this purpose. Three contributions to the CMIP5 archive were used to obtain the mean 3D atmospheric state simulated during May 1990–99 and May 2090–99. The climate change differences (or Δs) in temperature, relative humidity, pressure, and winds were added to NWP analyses of three high-end tornadic storm events, and this modified atmospheric state was then used for initial and boundary conditions for real-data WRF Model simulations of the events at high resolution. Comparison of an ensemble of these simulations with control simulations (CTRL) facilitated assessment of PGW effects.

In contrast to the robust development of supercellular convection in each CTRL, the combined effects of increased convective inhibition (CIN) and decreased parcel lifting under PGW led to a failure of convection initiation in many of the experiments. Those experiments that had sufficient matching between the CIN and lifting tended to generate stronger convective updrafts than CTRL, although not in proportion to the projected higher levels of convective available potential energy (CAPE) under PGW. In addition, the experiments with enhanced updrafts also tended to have enhanced vertical rotation. In fact, such supercellular convection was even found in simulations that were driven with PGW-reduced environmental wind shear. Notably, the PGW modifications did not induce a change in the convective morphology in any of the PGW experiments with significant convective storminess.

Corresponding author address: Robert J. Trapp, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, UIUC, 105 S. Gregory St., Urbana, IL 61801. E-mail: jtrapp@illinois.edu
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