Saturday, March 25, 2017

Frequency of severe weather plummeted in China in last 50 years, study says

By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather staff writer
March 24,2017, 11:03:09AM,EDT
Severe weather events have dropped dramatically in China over the last 50 years, according to new research.
A recent study points to global warming, rising industrialization and air pollution as potential causes for the drop.
Researchers at Penn State University conducted a comprehensive study that showed the number of severe weather days featuring thunderstorms, hail and/or damaging winds fell by roughly 50 percent from 1961 to 2010.
The drop in severe weather strongly correlated with the weakening of the summer monsoon, the researchers said.
china lightning
Lightning strikes a skyscraper in Central Business District during a rainstorm in Beijing, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Monsoon season provides the moisture and warmth needed to create severe weather during the warm season for the region.
"A monsoon is one of the major drivers of severe weather because it affects the three necessary 'ingredients' for severe weather, which are wind shear, instability and triggering," said Fuqing Zhang, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science at Penn State.
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With less moisture during the warm months, severe weather became less frequent. The study noted a significant change in monsoon strength from the first 25 years of data to the second.
The researchers used wind, thunderstorm and hail data from 580 weather stations across the country for the comprehensive study. The southern region of the country experiences the most severe weather.
While on the surface, a decrease in severe weather may seem like a positive, it can actually lead to more damage.
"A decrease in storms could potentially lead to an increase in droughts," said Qinghong Zhang, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at Peking University and lead author of the study, who conducted the research while on sabbatical at Penn State.
"Also, some theorize that while the frequency of severe weather decreases, their intensity could potentially increase," Zhang said.

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