Warmer oceans can fuel more thunderstorms

December 25th, 2008 - 2:56 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 25 (ANI): Scientists have found that thunderstorms are more frequent over areas where ocean temperatures are warm.

According to a report by Science News, the growth of thunderheads the massive and extremely tall clouds that generate the most severe thunderstorms is driven by the rise of warm, moist air.

A NASA satellite designed to monitor such deep convective clouds detects about 6,000 of them each day, according to George Aumann, a climate scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

He and JPL colleague Joao Teixeira have analyzed five years worth of data from the satellite.

The scientists determined that that such rainfall-producing clouds are more frequent over areas where ocean temperatures are warm, a finding that bolsters a previous study that showed an increase in global rainfall as climate has warmed in recent decades.

For every 1 degree Celsius increase in average sea-surface temperature, the team noted a 45 percent increase in how frequently deep convective clouds appeared.

Other studies show that Earths average temperature is now rising about 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade, said Aumann.

So, if that temperature rise continues, the tropics will see the frequency of strong storms rise about 6 percent each decade.

At present, deep convective clouds cover only 1 percent or so of the worlds tropical oceans.

According to Aumann, despite covering a small area, those storms are intense: They account for more than 25 percent of the rain falling on tropical oceans. (ANI)

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