The Link Between Climate Change And Tornadoes Is Atmospheric Physics

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 18 Jun 2013 01:41:00 GMT

El Reno, OK EF5 multi-vortex tornado, May 31, 2013. At 2.6 miles wide, the widest ever recorded in the United States.
A problematic trend among science journalists and climate communicators is the obfuscation of the scientific understanding of tornadogenesis, the processes and conditions necessary for the formation of tornadoes.

These claims range from misleading to false.

The link between climate change and tornado activity is atmospheric physics. Tornadic activity is governed by atmospheric and topographical conditions, such as vertical wind shear, humidity, temperature gradients, and geographic contours. The atmospheric conditions are determined by climatic forcings, including greenhouse gas concentrations. Scientists have not established how global warming changes tornado activity, but it is simply incorrect to state that there is no link between climate change and tornadoes. To make that claim requires the assumption that the laws of physics do not apply to tornadoes.

There is strong science about climate change and large storms. In particular, there is both theoretical and observational evidence that intense precipitation events are increasing. For example: There is also theoretical and observed evidence that global incidence of lightning is increasing: There is theoretical evidence that global warming should increase severe thunderstorms:

There are many questions that are open areas of study, including how storm seasons and geography may be shifting, but that thunderstorms are powered by latent and thermal heat is something that has been understood since the 19th century (see Espy, 1841, Philosophy of Storms).