NASA reveals climate change may boost extreme storms count

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Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi : The on-going climate change is leading to many devastating affects in recent years. The tropical ocean warming due to climate change is possibly increasing the frequency of extreme rain storms, reveal NASA scientists.

A study conducted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the US combed through 15 years of data collected by the space agency's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument over the tropical oceans to examine the relationship between the average sea surface temperature and the rise of severe storms.

NASA researchers found that the extreme storms, those producing at least three millimetres of rain per hour over a 25-kilometre area are formed when the sea surface temperature was higher than about 28 degrees Celsius.

"It is somewhat common sense that severe storms will increase in a warmer environment. Thunderstorms typically occur in the warmest season of the year," said Hartmut Aumann of JPL.

"But our data provide the first quantitative estimate of how much they are likely to increase, at least for the tropical oceans," Aumann said

The accepted climate models project shows steady increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and tropical ocean surface temperature is rising by as much as 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

The study reveals that if this were to happen, we could expect the frequency of extreme storms to increase by as much as 60 percent by that time.

Scientists also accept that the climate models are not perfect but results like these can serve as a guideline for those looking to prepare for the potential effects a changing climate may have, researchers said.

"Our results quantify and give a more visual meaning to the consequences of the predicted warming of the oceans," Aumann said.

"More storms mean more flooding, more structure damage, more crop damage and so on, unless mitigating measures are implemented," he said.

The study has been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.