Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Expect Less But Bigger Hail as Climate Warms, Study Says

Eric Chaney
Published: June 27,2017

A new study says that climate change will lead to fewer hailstorms, but when they occur the hail will be larger and more damaging.
Hail causes millions of dollars a year in damages across the United States, so fewer hail storms would be a good thing, right?
Not necessarily, says a new study from scientists with Canada’s meteorological and environmental agencies and the University of Manitoba.
“Although fewer hail days are expected over most areas in the future, an increase in the mean hail size is projected, with fewer small hail events and a shift toward a more frequent occurrence of larger hail,” the study says.
The research team says that global warming is contributing to a change in rainfall patterns, which computer modeling indicates may apply to hail as well.
"As the planet warms, we are finding that we're having fewer rainfall events, but when it does rain, it tends to be heavier,” study coauthor Julian Brimelow, a researcher with Environment and Climate Change Canada, a government department, told CNN.
The team used simulations of hail growth to discover how hailstone growth will change, running models for the years 1971-2000 and 2041-2070 and then compared the data. It took about six months to run the calculations for a 50-kilometer resolution model that includes most of North America.
A new study says that climate change will lead to fewer hailstorms, but when they occur the hail will be larger and more damaging.
This is not a calculation you could do on the back of an envelope, Brimelow told CNN.
“At the end of the day, we generated about a billion profiles.”
Those billions of model runs show that drier and cooler regions are predicted to experience the largest increase in hail threat, such as the Northern Plains, whereas warm and moist areas like the Southeast are likely to see a decreased threat.
Consequently, damage potential from hailstorms is expected to rise by more than 40 percent in key hail areas such as the High Plains and Great Plains.
Hail damage costs per year already hit the billion dollar mark on a regular basis.
According to statistics compiled by the Insurance Information Institute, the U.S, had about 5,600 hail events last year, resulting in around $3.5 billion in property and crop damage.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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