Global warming research: strong storms to become stronger, weak storms to become weaker

Watts Up With That?

University of Toronto study finds atmosphere will adapt to hotter, wetter climate

photo of lightning hitting CN Tower in a storm

(photo by Liam Kearney via Flickr)

A study led by atmospheric physicists at the University of Toronto finds that global warming will not lead to an overall increasingly stormy atmosphere, a topic debated by scientists for decades.

Instead, strong storms will become stronger while weak storms become weaker, and the cumulative result of the number of storms will remain unchanged.

“We know that with global warming we’ll get more evaporation of the oceans,” said Frédéric Laliberté, a research associate at U of T’s physics department and lead author of a study published this week in Science. “But circulation in the atmosphere is like a heat engine that requires fuel to do work, just like any combustion engine or a convection engine.”

The atmosphere’s work as a heat engine occurs when an air mass near the surface…

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