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New study finds that carbon pollution influences giant airstreams, causing weather extremes

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Desdemona Despair

Weather extremes: Humans likely influence giant airstreams


By John Abraham
7 April 2017

(The Guardian) – It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote about changes to extreme weather in a warming world. That prior article dealt with the increase of extreme precipitation events as the Earth warms. I termed the relationship a thermodynamic one; it was driven by local thermodynamic processes. But extreme weather can also occur because of large-scale changes to the atmosphere and oceans. This issue is the topic of another just-published paper that makes a convincing case for a whole new type of influence of humans on extreme weather. In a certain sense, this study confirms what was previously reported here and here. With the march of science, the tools, methods, and evidence get better each year.

Before getting into the study, a little background. The jet stream(s) are high-speed rivers of air that flow in the upper atmosphere. There’s more than one jet stream; they blow west to east and they mark the separation of zones of different temperatures. A good primer on jet streams is available here.

Using measurements, the authors documented what conditions led to extreme weather patterns that persisted for extended durations. They found that many occur when the jet stream becomes stationary with the undulations stuck in place. They also saw that under certain situations, the jet stream undulations do not dissipate in time; they become trapped in a wave guide.

Interestingly, this pattern of a stuck jet stream would occur when the number of undulations was between six and eight. When these circumstances all lined up, according to study co-author Stefan Rahmstorf:

the same weather persists for weeks on end in one region, then sunny days can turn into a serious heat wave and drought, and lasting rains can lead to flooding

And this is also how humans come into the story. As humans emit greenhouse gases, the planet warms. We know that, we predicted it, and it is occurring. However, the warming is not uniform. The Arctic, for instance, is warming more rapidly than the rest of the planet. As a result, the temperature difference between the Arctic and the rest of the world is reducing. It is this temperature difference that maintains the jet stream patterns. [more]

New study links carbon pollution to extreme weather


ABSTRACT: Persistent episodes of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere summer have been shown to be associated with the presence of high-amplitude quasi-stationary atmospheric Rossby waves within a particular wavelength range (zonal wavenumber 6–8). The underlying mechanistic relationship involves the phenomenon of quasi-resonant amplification (QRA) of synoptic-scale waves with that wavenumber range becoming trapped within an effective mid-latitude atmospheric waveguide. Recent work suggests an increase in recent decades in the occurrence of QRA-favorable conditions and associated extreme weather, possibly linked to amplified Arctic warming and thus a climate change influence. Here, we isolate a specific fingerprint in the zonal mean surface temperature profile that is associated with QRA-favorable conditions. State-of-the-art (“CMIP5”) historical climate model simulations subject to anthropogenic forcing display an increase in the projection of this fingerprint that is mirrored in multiple observational surface temperature datasets. Both the models and observations suggest this signal has only recently emerged from the background noise of natural variability.

Influence of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Planetary Wave Resonance and Extreme Weather Events



Source: http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2017/04/new-study-finds-that-carbon-pollution.html


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