PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
FREE PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Alaska thunderstorms may triple with climate change

Ice-free waters will fuel atmospheric moisture if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked

2021-02-23
(Press-News.org) Warming temperatures will potentially alter the climate in Alaska so profoundly later this century that the number of thunderstorms will triple, increasing the risks of widespread flash flooding, landslides, and lightning-induced wildfires, new research finds.

In a pair of new papers, a research team led by scientists at the Paris Sciences and Letters University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) show that the sea ice around Alaska could largely give way to open water in the warmer months, creating an ample source of moisture for the atmosphere. This moisture, combined with warmer temperatures that can hold more water vapor, would turbocharge summertime storms over Alaska by the end of the century under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario.

"Alaska can expect three times as many storms, and those storms will be more intense," said NCAR scientist Andreas Prein, a co-author of the new papers. "It will be a very different regime of rainfall."

The thunderstorms would extend throughout Alaska, even in far northern regions where such storms are virtually unheard of. In more southern regions of the state that currently experience occasional thunderstorms, the storms would become far more frequent and peak rainfall rates would increase by more than a third.

The scientists used a suite of advanced computer models and a specialized algorithm to simulate future weather conditions and to track the sources of moisture in the atmosphere. They noted that the impacts in Alaska could be significantly reduced if society curbed emissions.

The findings have far-reaching implications for the 49th state. Flooding is already the most expensive type of natural disaster in central Alaska, and wildfires ignited by lightning strikes are a major hazard.

"We suspect that the increasing number of thunderstorms might have significant impacts, such as amplifying spring floods or causing more wildfire ignitions," said Basile Poujol, a scientist with the Paris Sciences and Letters University and lead author of both studies. "Further studies are necessary to determine whether these impacts are likely to occur and, if so, their potential effects on ecosystems and society."

The studies, published in Climate Dynamics, were funded by the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR's sponsor, and by the European Research Council.

A major climate shift

Alaska is expected to warm by 6-9 degrees Celsius (about 11-16 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century if society pumps out high amounts of greenhouse gases. The vast state is already experiencing damaging impacts from warmer temperatures, including longer wildfire seasons, record heat waves, and landslides and sinkholes caused by melting permafrost.

If thunderstorms become more common in Alaska, it would represent a major shift in the state's climate.

Organized convective storms, including powerful systems of thunderstorms, are a frequent occurrence in the tropics and midlatitudes, where the atmosphere is moist and solar heating creates instability and rapidly rising parcels of air. In contrast, the colder Arctic provides an inhospitable environment for high-impact thunderstorms.

For the first paper, which focused on how Alaskan thunderstorms may change later this century, the authors compared computer simulations of Alaska's current-day climate with the conditions expected at the end of the century. They fed data from global climate models into the higher-resolution NCAR-based Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, which enabled them to generate detailed simulations of Alaska's weather and climate. They then applied a specialized storm-tracking algorithm, focusing on large thunderstorm clusters in the simulations that extended for dozens to hundreds of miles and unleashed more than an inch of rain per hour - the type of event that could lead to far-reaching flash flooding and landslides.

To confirm that the models were realistic, the authors compared the simulations of recent atmospheric conditions with observations of actual conditions from radar, satellite, lightning sensors, and other sources.

The results showed that thunderstorm frequency south of the Yukon River increased from about once a year to every month during the warm season. Hourly rainfall rates increased noticeably, ranging up to 37% higher in the cores of storms. In addition, thunderstorms began appearing in regions that had not previously experienced them, such as the North Slope and West Coast.

The second paper focused on the reasons for the increase in thunderstorms. After using WRF and other models to develop a detailed representation of the atmosphere over Alaska, including temperature, water vapor, and seasonal sea ice cover, the research team applied a specialized model to trace air parcels back to their sources.

"Our goal was to determine the sources of moisture and associated changes that would fuel such a significant increase in thunderstorms over Alaska," said NCAR scientist Maria Molina, a co-author of the second study.

The results showed that moist air masses from ice-free regions of the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Arctic Ocean will provide abundant fuel for storms. The warmer atmosphere will experience increasingly powerful thunderstorms that are more likely to organize and form large-scale clusters, increasing the potential for heavy rain and lightning.

Prein said the effects of increased storms in Alaska could be particularly severe because the landscape will be reshaped by melting permafrost and the northerly migration of boreal forests.

"The potential for flash flooding and landslides is definitely increasing, and the Arctic is becoming way more flammable," he said. "It's hard to grasp what the ecological changes will be in the future."

These modeling results from the two studies are in agreement with observed increases in thunderstorm activity in Arctic regions. The authors urged more research into other high-latitude regions to understand if they will experience similar changes.

"There's a lot of value in doing targeted regional climate model simulations that can capture smaller-scale events like thunderstorms and open the door for us to begin to understand more of the complex ways that climate change will impact many aspects of life all over the globe," said NCAR scientist Andrew Newman, a co-author of the first paper. "These two studies show the potential for the Arctic to experience previously unseen weather events in addition to traditionally highlighted changes such as sea ice loss."

INFORMATION:

About the first paper

Title: "Kilometer-scale modeling projects a tripling of Alaskan convective storms in future climate"
Authors: Basile Poujol, Andreas F. Prein, and Andrew J. Newman
Publication: Climate Dynamics

About the second paper

Title: "Dynamic and Thermodynamic Impacts of Climate Change on Organized Convection in Alaska"
Authors: Basile Poujol, Andreas F. Prein, Maria J. Molina, and Caroline Muller
Publication: Climate Dynamics

This material is based upon work supported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a major facility sponsored by the National Science Foundation and managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Additional Contact:
Ali Branscombe,
NCAR|UCAR Media Relations
abran@ucar.edu
651-764-9643

On the web: news.ucar.edu
On Twitter: @NCAR_Science



ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

UIC researchers invent new gene-editing tool

2021-02-23
Researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago have discovered a new gene-editing technique that allows for the programming of sequential cuts -- or edits -- over time. CRISPR is a gene-editing tool that allows scientists to change the DNA sequences in cells and sometimes add a desired sequence or genes. CRISPR uses an enzyme called Cas9 that acts like scissors to make a cut precisely at a desired location in the DNA. Once a cut is made, the ways in which cells repair the DNA break can be influenced to result in different changes or edits to the DNA sequence. The discovery of the gene-editing capabilities ...

The unveiling of a novel mechanism of resistance to immunotherapy targeting HER2

The unveiling of a novel mechanism of resistance to immunotherapy targeting HER2
2021-02-23
Redirection of lymphocytes, via T-cell bispecific antibodies (TCBs) and chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), is already approved to treat some hematologic malignancies. In solid tumors these immune-based strategies continue to fail. Research led by Joaquín Arribas, co-Program Director of Preclinical and Translational Research at VHIO, has now shown how HER2 breast cancer cells adopt a strategy to resist clearance by redirected lymphocytes. Findings evidence that the disruption of interferon-gamma signaling confers resistance to these immunotherapies and promotes disease ...

Study shows new treatment pathway to prevent and treat endometrial cancer recurrence

Study shows new treatment pathway to prevent and treat endometrial cancer recurrence
2021-02-23
In a new study led by Yale Cancer Center, researchers demonstrate sex hormones and insulin growth factors are associated with recurrence risk of endometrial cancer. The findings suggest endocrine-targeted therapies and an assessment of biomarkers in hormone and insulin signaling pathways may be useful in the prevention and treatment of endometrial cancer recurrence. The study is a collaboration with researchers at the University of Hawaii and The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and is published online today in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. "These findings are very ...

Measuring hemoglobin levels with AI microscope, microfluidic chips

Measuring hemoglobin levels with AI microscope, microfluidic chips
2021-02-23
WASHINGTON, February 23, 2021 -- One of the most performed medical diagnostic tests to ascertain the health of patients is a complete blood count, which typically includes an estimate of the hemoglobin concentration. The hemoglobin level in the blood is an important biochemical parameter that can indicate a host of medical conditions including anemia, polycythemia, and pulmonary fibrosis. In AIP Advances, by AIP Publishing, researchers from SigTuple Technologies and the Indian Institute of Science describe a new AI-powered imaging-based tool to estimate hemoglobin levels. The setup was developed in conjunction with a microfluidic chip and ...

Effect of layperson-delivered, empathy-focused program of telephone calls on loneliness, depression, anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic

2021-02-23
What The Study Did: A randomized clinical trial, this study reports that a layperson-delivered, empathy-oriented telephone call program reduced loneliness, depression and anxiety compared with the control group and improved the general mental health of participants within four weeks. Authors: Maninder K. Kahlon, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin, is the corresponding author. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ (10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0113) Editor's Note:  The article includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and ...

COVID-19 communication

2021-02-23
What The Article Says: In this narrative medicine essay, a medical school professor expresses gratitude for the caring and empathy expressed by the team caring for her mother hospitalized with COVID-19 and emphasizes the importance of humanity and compassion over facts and statistics for families physically separated from their critically ill loved ones. Authors: Lisa M. Meeks, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, is the author. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ (doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0119) Editor's ...

Tobacco exposure in kids, risk of increased blood pressure

2021-02-23
What The Study Did: Researchers investigated whether children and adolescents who smoked or lived with a smoker had an increased risk of elevated blood pressure. Authors: Rebecca V. Levy, B.M., B.Ch., M.Sc., of the Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York is the corresponding author. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ (doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.37936) Editor's Note: The article includes conflicts of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and ...

Simply speaking while infected can potentially spread COVID-19

2021-02-23
WASHINGTON, February 23, 2021 -- COVID-19 can spread from asymptomatic but infected people through small aerosol droplets in their exhaled breath. Most studies of the flow of exhaled air have focused on coughing or sneezing, which can send aerosols flying long distances. However, speaking while near one another is also risky since the virus can be ejected by merely talking. In Physics of Fluids, by AIP Publishing, scientists in Japan use smoke and laser light to study the flow of expelled breath near and around two people conversing in various relative postures commonly found in the service industry, such as in hair salons, medical exam rooms, or long-term care facilities. ...

Low-level jets create winds of change for turbines

Low-level jets create winds of change for turbines
2021-02-23
WASHINGTON, February 23, 2021 -- As one of the leading sources of clean and renewable energy, global wind power capacity has increased more than fivefold over the past decade, leading to larger turbines and pushing wind technology to its limits. "These much larger turbines are operating in very different atmospheric layers than smaller turbines used 5-10 years ago," said Srinidhi Gadde, one of the authors of a paper in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, from AIP Publishing, that examines the impacts of turbine height. "At these scales, local meteorology and extreme shear events, which frequently occur, can impact ...

Parasitic plants conspire to keep hosts alive

Parasitic plants conspire to keep hosts alive
2021-02-23
The plant that encourages kissing at Christmas is in fact a parasite, and new research reveals mistletoe has an unusual feeding strategy. Like other plants, mistletoe is capable of using sunlight to create its own food, a process called photosynthesis. However, it prefers to siphon water and nutrients from other trees and shrubs, using "false roots" to invade its hosts. "Plants are autotrophic, they make their own food. Humans are heterotrophic, we eat it," explained UC Riverside plant-insect ecologist Paul Nabity. "Mistletoe are mostly heterotrophic, but they can switch if they want to." Nabity's team found when two mistletoes invade the same tree, they increase photosynthesis to get the nutrients they need, essentially sharing the ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

Improving water quality could help conserve insectivorous birds -- study

Vitamin B6 may help keep COVID-19's cytokine storms at bay

Not all "good" cholesterol is healthy

Embed germ defence behaviours at home to reduce virus spread now and in the future - new study

Arthritis drugs may reduce mortality and time in ICU for sickest COVID patients

New machine learning tool facilitates analysis of health information, clinical forecasting

Scientists investigated more thoroughly Walker breakdown in 3D magnetic nanowires

A tangled food web

Identifying patient-specific differences to treat HCM with precision medicine

Nuclear physicists on the hunt for squeezed protons

OU study highlights need for improving methane emission database

UTEP survey reveals hidden health and wellness benefits of COVID-19 pandemic

Landmark study details sequencing of 64 full human genomes to better capture genetic diversity

What might sheep and driverless cars have in common? Following the herd

Study uncovers flaws in process for maintaining state voter rolls

First complete coronavirus model shows cooperation

Imaging space debris in high resolution

Social dilemma follows 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano

Signal transduction without signal -- receptor clusters can direct cell movement

Urban Americans more likely to follow covid-19 prevention behaviors than rural Americans

New sustainable building simulation method points to the future of design

Scientists use Doppler to peer inside cells

Farmers in developing countries can protect both profits and endangered species

Scientists identify cells responsible for liver tissue maintenance and regeneration

Did teenage 'tyrants' outcompete other dinosaurs?

NTU scientists develop laser system that generates random numbers at ultrafast speeds

Disease tolerance: Skeletons reveal humans evolved to fight pathogens

64 human genomes as new reference for global genetic diversity

Scientists probe electronic angular momentum to a chemical reaction for the first time

Market design to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine supply

[Press-News.org] Alaska thunderstorms may triple with climate change
Ice-free waters will fuel atmospheric moisture if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked