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Journal Articles Climate Dynamics Year : 2021

Dynamic and thermodynamic impacts of climate change on organized convection in Alaska

Abstract

Convective storms can cause economic damage and harm to humans by producing flash floods, lightning and severe weather. While organized convection is well studied in the tropics and mid-latitudes, few studies have focused on the physics and climate change impacts of pan-Arctic convective systems. Using a convection-permitting model we showed in a predecessor study that organized convective storm frequency might triple by the end of the century in Alaska assuming a high emission scenario. The present study assesses the reasons for this rapid increase in organized convection by investigating dynamic and thermodynamic changes within future storms and their environments, in light of canonical existing theories for mid-latitude and tropical deep convection. In a future climate, more moisture originates from Arctic marine basins increasing relative humidity over Alaska due to the loss of sea ice, which is in sharp contrast to lower-latitude land regions that are expected to become drier. This increase in relative humidity favors the onset of organized convection through more unstable thermodynamic environments, increased low-level buoyancy, and weaker downdrafts. Our confidence in these results is increased by showing that these changes can be analytically derived from basic physical laws. This suggests that organized thunderstorms might become more frequent in other pan-Arctic continental regions highlighting the uniqueness and vulnerability of these regions to climate change.
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insu-03726953 , version 1 (28-07-2022)

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Basile Poujol, Andreas F. Prien, Maria J. Molina, Caroline Muller. Dynamic and thermodynamic impacts of climate change on organized convection in Alaska. Climate Dynamics, 2021, 56, pp.2569-2593. ⟨10.1007/s00382-020-05606-7⟩. ⟨insu-03726953⟩
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