(ORDO NEWS) — Some 30 massive, intricate computer networks serve scientists at the forefront of climate change research. Each network runs a program consisting of millions of lines of code.
These programs are computational models that integrate the myriad physical, chemical, and biological phenomena that together shape our planet’s climate.
Models calculate the state of the earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and ice, capture past and present climate fluctuations, and use the data to predict future climate changes.
These results are analyzed by leading research institutions around the world, including the Weizmann Institute of Science, and then included in an evaluation report.
UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Policy makers rely on the IPCC report to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change, one of the greatest crises of our generation.
The new study, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, is sure to get the IPCC – and other environmental authorities – to take notice.
A team of scientists led by Dr. Ray Hemke of the Weizmann Division of Earth and Planetary Sciences has discovered a significant increase in winter storms in the Southern Hemisphere.
The study, carried out in collaboration with Princeton University’s Dr. Yi Ming and MIT’s Dr. Yanni Yuval, is sure to spark a heated discussion about climate.
So far, climate models have predicted an anthropogenic increase in winter storms only towards the end of this century.
In the new study, Hemke and his team compared climate model simulations with current storm observations. Their discovery was grim: It has become clear that the intensification of storms in recent decades has already reached levels predicted for 2080.
“A winter storm is a weather event that lasts only a few days. Individually, each storm does not carry much climatic weight.
However, the long-term impact of winter storms becomes clear when assessing the cumulative data collected over long periods of time,” explains Hemke.
Together, these storms have a significant impact, affecting the transport of heat, moisture and momentum in the atmosphere, which, accordingly, affects various climatic zones of the Earth.
“One example of this is the role that storms play in temperature regulation at the Earth’s poles. Winter storms are responsible for most of the transport of heat from tropical regions to the poles.
Without their contribution, the average temperature at the poles would be about 30°C lower.” Likewise, the collective intensification of these storms poses a real and significant threat to society in the Southern Hemisphere in the coming decades.
“We decided to focus on the Southern Hemisphere because the intensification recorded there was stronger than in the Northern Hemisphere,” says Hemke.
“We haven’t studied the Northern Hemisphere, but it appears that the intensification of storms in this hemisphere is slower than in the Southern Hemisphere. If this trend continues,” adds Hemke, “we will see more significant intensification of winter storms here in the coming years and decades. “.
“Winter storms are responsible for most of the transport of heat from the tropical regions to the poles. Without their contribution, the average temperature at the poles would be about 30°C lower.”
In his laboratory at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Hemke investigates the physical mechanisms behind large-scale climate change.
In this study, he and his scientific partners sought to understand whether these changes in climate patterns were caused by external factors (such as human activities) or whether they were the result of internal fluctuations in the global climate system.
They analyzed climate models that simulated patterns of storm intensification under the isolated influence of internal climate causes, without external influences. They showed that over the past 20 years, storms have intensified faster than can be explained by inland climate behavior alone.
In addition, researchers have discovered a physical process behind the intensification of storms. Analysis of storm growth rates has shown that changes in atmospheric jet streams over the past few decades have caused these flare-ups, and current climate models are unable to accurately reflect these changes.
Hemke, Ming, and Yuval’s study has two immediate and significant implications. First, it shows that not only are climate projections for the coming decades more severe than previous estimates, but it also suggests that human activity could have a greater impact on the Southern Hemisphere than previously thought.
This means that swift and decisive intervention is needed to stop climate damage in this region. Second, errors in climate models need to be corrected so that they can more accurately predict climate in the future.
Can climate models inaccurately predict other important phenomena? “The models are very good at predicting almost all parameters,” says Hemke.
“We found one parameter for which we need to adjust the sensitivity of the models. Changes in temperature, precipitation, sea ice and summer storms, for example, are all modeled accurately.”
The results of the study are expected to help climate researchers around the world correct model errors and create more accurate predictions of future climate models.
In addition, an updated understanding of the intensification of winter storms over the past few decades will help us better understand the state of the Earth’s climate.
Climatologists will now be able to more accurately assess the extent of the damage that climate change is expected to cause – damage that can only be mitigated if humanity intervenes and takes responsibility for the future of the planet.
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