Home Sciences Climate change: they discover that the situation is worse than supposed

Climate change: they discover that the situation is worse than supposed

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New computer models run by scientists advising the UN and producing the IPCC report have uncovered a disturbing reality: the climate change that the planet is suffering is happening faster than previously thought. With this new tool, it has been verified, for example, that the intensification of storms in the southern hemisphere has already reached the level forecast for 2080.

About 30 complex computer networks help climate scientists in their research on global warming. Each network runs a software program made up of millions of lines of code. These programs are computational models that combine the large set of physical, chemical and biological phenomena that make up the climate of our planet. Models calculate the state of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and ice, show past and present climate variability and use the data to predict future climate change.

These results are analyzed by research institutes around the world, including the Weizmann Institute of Science, and then are incorporated into the assessment report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). World leaders rely on the IPCC report as they form adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change, one of the biggest crises of our generation.

A new study, just published in Nature Climate Change, will certainly make the IPCC and other environmental bodies open their eyes. A team of scientists led by Rei Chemke of the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences revealed a significant intensification of winter storms in the southern hemisphere.

The forecast for 2080 has already been achieved

The study, done in collaboration with Yi Ming of Princeton University and Janni Yuval of MIT, is sure to make a splash at the next climate summit. So far, climate models have predicted a human-caused intensification of winter storms toward the end of this century. In the new study, Chemke and her team compared climate model simulations with observations of actual storms. Their This discovery is really bleak: they have verified that the intensification of storms since the last decades has already reached the levels predicted for the year 2080.

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“A winter storm is a weather phenomenon that lasts only a few days. Individually, each storm does not carry much climatic weight. However, the long-term effect of winter storms becomes apparent when cumulative data collected over long periods of time is evaluated. periods of time,” explains Chemke. Cumulatively, these storms have a significant impact, affecting the transfer of heat, moisture, and momentum within the atmosphere, thereby affecting the Earth’s various climatic zones.

“An example of this is the role storms play in regulating temperature at Earth’s poles. Winter storms are responsible for most of the transport of heat from tropical regions towards the poles. Without their contribution, average temperatures at the poles would be about 30°C cooler,” he added. Similarly, the collective intensification of these storms poses a real and significant threat to societies in the Southern Hemisphere for decades to come.

“We chose to focus on the southern hemisphere because the intensification recorded there has been stronger than in the northern hemisphere,” says Chemke. “We didn’t look at the northern hemisphere, but it appears that the intensification of storms in this hemisphere is slower compared to the southern hemisphere.” If the trend persists, Chemke adds, “We will see a more significant intensification of winter storms” in the coming years and decades.

In his laboratory at the Weizmann Institute, Chemke investigates the physical mechanisms behind large-scale climate change. In this study, he and his colleagues investigated whether these changes in weather patterns were caused by external factors (such as human activity) or 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 climatic causes, without external impact. Finally, they showed that this intensification of storms in the last 20 years has been faster than could be explained by internal climatic behavior alone.more serious than expected

Chemke, Ming, and Yuval’s study has two immediate and considerable implications. First, shows that not only are climate projections for the coming decades more dire than previous assessments, it also suggests that human activity could have a greater impact on the southern hemisphere than previously estimated. This means that “quick and decisive intervention is required to stop climate damage in this region,” the scientists note. Second, a correction of the bias in the climate models is necessary so that they can provide a more accurate climate projection in the future.

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Could climate models be incorrectly predicting other important phenomena? “The models are doing a very good job of predicting almost all parameters,” says Chemke. However, she admits that the parameter they have discovered makes it “necessary to adjust the sensitivity of the models. Changes in temperature, precipitation, sea ice and summer storm patterns, for example, are accurately simulated” with the new system.

Findings from this study are expected to help climate researchers around the world correct for bias in models and create a more accurate prediction of future weather patterns.

Reference study: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-022-01368-8

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Environment section contact: crisisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

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