Science

Unexplainable Tornado Outbreak Are On The Rise

By Monica U Santos , Dec 04, 2016 10:16 AM EST

A new study claimed that the most extreme tornado outbreaks are mysteriously spawning much more twisters than they did decades ago. A single tornado can surely cause a lot of damage. But even worse is when tornado outbreaks happen. A few days ago, a cluster of at least 18 tornadoes struck the Southeast over two days.

What Is A Tornado?

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that spins while in contact with both on the surface of the Earth and on a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare case scenarios, the base of a cumulus cloud. They are often referred to as twisters, whirlwinds or cyclones. Although the word cyclone is used in meteorology to name any closed low pressure circulation.

As per Ready, tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Some of it are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

Unexplainable Tornado Outbreak Are On The Rise

According to SOTT, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms kill people and damage property every year. Estimated U.S. insured losses due to severe thunderstorms in the first half of 2016 were $8.5 billion. The largest U.S. impacts of tornadoes result from tornado outbreaks, sequences of tornadoes that occur in close succession.

In a new study or research paper, published December 1 in Science via First Release, the researchers looked at increasing trends in the severity of tornado outbreaks where they measured severity by the number of tornadoes per outbreak. They found that these trends are increasing fastest for the most extreme outbreaks. While they saw changes in meteorological quantities that are consistent with these upward trends, the meteorological trends were not the ones expected under climate change.

"This study raises new questions about what climate change will do to severe thunderstorms and what is responsible for recent trends," says team led by Michael Tippett, associate professor of applied physics and applied mathematics at Columbia , who is also a member of the Data Science Institute and the Columbia Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate.

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," Tippett added.

 

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