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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Global Warming Could Lead to Increase in Thunderstorms

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Severe thunderstorms are predicted to increase dramatically in the United States and in some cities, like Atlanta, New York, and Dallas, storms are expected to double by the end of the century due to global warming, according to research by Jeremy Pal, a professor of civil engineering and environmental science at Loyola Marymount University

Researchers who study severe weather and climate change joined forces to study the effects of global warming on the climate. Pal is one of the lead developers of the regional climate model used in this study and a co-author of "Changes in severe thunderstorm environment frequency during the 21st century caused by anthropogenically enhanced global radiative forcing." Pal said the regional climate model offers the most detailed picture available of weather and climate activity across the United States.

The regional model divides up landmass across the United States into a grid of cells spaced 25 kilometers, or 15.6 miles, apart and provides information about the conditions occurring for each cell.

"The regional model has a higher resolution than global models and provides information on the tens-of-miles scale" said Pal. "Global models give data on the hundreds-of-miles scale. The use of four different models in this study makes the results more robust."

The study results were compared to current and past environmental conditions shown to produce severe thunderstorms. Research suggested global warming would lead to an increase in humid air that fuels severe thunderstorms. However, it also suggested global warming would reduce strong winds that contribute to the storms. The increase in humid air outweighs the reduction in winds leading to an increase in severe storm occurrence.

The study also found that the increase in storm conditions occurs during the typical storm seasons for these locations and not during dry seasons when such storms could be beneficial. The findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

About Loyola Marymount University

Located between the Pacific Ocean and downtown Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University is a comprehensive university offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Founded in 1911, LMU is the largest Catholic institution of higher education on the West Coast with nearly 5,500 undergraduate students and more than 3,000 graduate and law students. Students can choose from more than 80 majors and programs in four colleges, two schools and Loyola Law School. For more LMU news and events, please visit

Source:PR Newswire

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