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Richard E. Peterson
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Richard E. Peterson

Abstract

Nine years of waterspout and funnel observations taken at Nassau, Bahamas, are analyzed, revealing a pattern of activity broadly similar to the behavior in the Key West, Fla., vicinity.

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Richard E. Peterson

The most extensive published guidelines to carrying out studies of tornadoes were written by Johannes Letzmann and Harald Koschmieder, issued in 1937. Forgotten for decades, they are presented here in translation, accompanied by commentary and background material. They provide insight into the development of concepts of tornadogenesis, and a measure of the progress made in tornado research in the recent past.

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Richard E. Peterson

Abstract

During the inter-war years one of the most prominent tornado researchers was Johannes Letzmann of Estonia. His productivity was essentially curtailed by the outbreak of World War II; however, up to that time his prodigious output spanned the field of tornado research. He began with developing the climatology of tornadic events in the Baltic and theoretical considerations of the forms that tornado swaths would assume. He continued with numerous field examinations of tornado swaths and interpretations of tornado structures based on the damage. Later, he turned increasingly to laboratory studies of simulated tornadoes, both in water and air. Toward the end of the 1930s, he (along with Harald Koschmieder) wrote a detailed set of guidelines for carrying out field investigations of tornadoes. In many respects his work was decades ahead of his time; today the work is almost entirely overlooked.

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Richard E. Peterson and Kishor C. Mehta
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Nikolai Dotzek, Richard E. Peterson, Bernold Feuerstein, and Martin Hubrig
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symposium summary

Symposium on Tornadoes: Assessment of Knowledge and Implications for Man, 22–24 June 1976, Lubbock/Tex.

Richard E. Peterson, Kishor C. Mehta, and Robert F. Abbey Jr.
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William J. Koshak, Kenneth L. Cummins, Dennis E. Buechler, Brian Vant-Hull, Richard J. Blakeslee, Earle R. Williams, and Harold S. Peterson

Abstract

Changes in lightning characteristics over the conterminous United States (CONUS) are examined to support the National Climate Assessment (NCA) program. Details of the variability of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning characteristics over the decade 2003–12 are provided using data from the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN). Changes in total (CG + cloud flash) lightning across part of the CONUS during the decade are provided using satellite Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) data. The variations in NLDN-derived CG lightning are compared with available statistics on lightning-caused impacts to various U.S. economic sectors. Overall, a downward trend in total CG lightning count is found for the decadal period; the 5-yr mean NLDN CG count decreased by 12.8% from 25 204 345.8 (2003–07) to 21 986 578.8 (2008–12). There is a slow upward trend in the fraction and number of positive-polarity CG lightning, however. Associated lightning-caused fatalities and injuries, and the number of lightning-caused wildland fires and burn acreage also trended downward, but crop and personal-property damage costs increased. The 5-yr mean LIS total lightning changed little over the decadal period. Whereas the CONUS-averaged dry-bulb temperature trended upward during the analysis period, the CONUS-averaged wet-bulb temperature (a variable that is better correlated with lightning activity) trended downward. A simple linear model shows that climate-induced changes in CG lightning frequency would likely have a substantial and direct impact on humankind (e.g., a long-term upward trend of 1°C in wet-bulb temperature corresponds to approximately 14 fatalities and over $367 million in personal-property damage resulting from lightning).

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Russell S. Vose, Scott Applequist, Mark A. Bourassa, Sara C. Pryor, Rebecca J. Barthelmie, Brian Blanton, Peter D. Bromirski, Harold E. Brooks, Arthur T. DeGaetano, Randall M. Dole, David R. Easterling, Robert E. Jensen, Thomas R. Karl, Richard W. Katz, Katherine Klink, Michael C. Kruk, Kenneth E. Kunkel, Michael C. MacCracken, Thomas C. Peterson, Karsten Shein, Bridget R. Thomas, John E. Walsh, Xiaolan L. Wang, Michael F. Wehner, Donald J. Wuebbles, and Robert S. Young

This scientific assessment examines changes in three climate extremes—extratropical storms, winds, and waves—with an emphasis on U.S. coastal regions during the cold season. There is moderate evidence of an increase in both extratropical storm frequency and intensity during the cold season in the Northern Hemisphere since 1950, with suggestive evidence of geographic shifts resulting in slight upward trends in offshore/coastal regions. There is also suggestive evidence of an increase in extreme winds (at least annually) over parts of the ocean since the early to mid-1980s, but the evidence over the U.S. land surface is inconclusive. Finally, there is moderate evidence of an increase in extreme waves in winter along the Pacific coast since the 1950s, but along other U.S. shorelines any tendencies are of modest magnitude compared with historical variability. The data for extratropical cyclones are considered to be of relatively high quality for trend detection, whereas the data for extreme winds and waves are judged to be of intermediate quality. In terms of physical causes leading to multidecadal changes, the level of understanding for both extratropical storms and extreme winds is considered to be relatively low, while that for extreme waves is judged to be intermediate. Since the ability to measure these changes with some confidence is relatively recent, understanding is expected to improve in the future for a variety of reasons, including increased periods of record and the development of “climate reanalysis” projects.

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Kenneth E. Kunkel, Thomas R. Karl, Harold Brooks, James Kossin, Jay H. Lawrimore, Derek Arndt, Lance Bosart, David Changnon, Susan L. Cutter, Nolan Doesken, Kerry Emanuel, Pavel Ya. Groisman, Richard W. Katz, Thomas Knutson, James O'Brien, Christopher J. Paciorek, Thomas C. Peterson, Kelly Redmond, David Robinson, Jeff Trapp, Russell Vose, Scott Weaver, Michael Wehner, Klaus Wolter, and Donald Wuebbles

The state of knowledge regarding trends and an understanding of their causes is presented for a specific subset of extreme weather and climate types. For severe convective storms (tornadoes, hailstorms, and severe thunderstorms), differences in time and space of practices of collecting reports of events make using the reporting database to detect trends extremely difficult. Overall, changes in the frequency of environments favorable for severe thunderstorms have not been statistically significant. For extreme precipitation, there is strong evidence for a nationally averaged upward trend in the frequency and intensity of events. The causes of the observed trends have not been determined with certainty, although there is evidence that increasing atmospheric water vapor may be one factor. For hurricanes and typhoons, robust detection of trends in Atlantic and western North Pacific tropical cyclone (TC) activity is significantly constrained by data heterogeneity and deficient quantification of internal variability. Attribution of past TC changes is further challenged by a lack of consensus on the physical link- ages between climate forcing and TC activity. As a result, attribution of trends to anthropogenic forcing remains controversial. For severe snowstorms and ice storms, the number of severe regional snowstorms that occurred since 1960 was more than twice that of the preceding 60 years. There are no significant multidecadal trends in the areal percentage of the contiguous United States impacted by extreme seasonal snowfall amounts since 1900. There is no distinguishable trend in the frequency of ice storms for the United States as a whole since 1950.

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