Home Sciences Tornadoes increase in the Mediterranean as its waters warm

Tornadoes increase in the Mediterranean as its waters warm

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The observation of marine sleeves and tornadoes in the mediterranean (Barcelona, ​​Alicante or the Balearic Islands, for example), but also in Italy and other nearby regions. But is this situation really due to a real increase in the frequency of these phenomena or is it simply the result of the greater diffusion allowed by social networks and increasingly precise meteorological instruments?

To begin with, you have to know that the tornadoes and sea hoses are not exactly the same, although they may really seem so. The common characteristic that they have is that they have a column of air that rotates and that they are both eddies or tornadic winds. The only real difference between a tornado and a twister is in the storm that spawned it.

Tornadoes are one of nature’s most destructive phenomena.arise from the base of storm clouds, cumulonimbus, and are capable of generating winds of up to 500 km/h, can last for hours and travel hundreds of kilometers, the most extreme are formed in the US, but also in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom and Mexico.

In Spain we have evidence of tornadoes, some quite destructive, but that occurred in uninhabited areas. They usually have a width of between 90 and 600 meters, in general.

The spin on the ground is cyclonic, like the movement of children’s tops and they suck in air from the environment, collecting everything in their path. For this reason we usually see them dark, due to the land and the pieces of houses or fences that they find in their path. They move with the movement of the cloud, explains the portal eltiempo.es.

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Instead, waterspouts are normally associated with cumulus ‘congestus’They form over lakes and oceans, but they also form at the base of large Cumulonimbus clouds. Normally they are 450 meters high but they can reach up to 900 meters, they can be isolated or in groups, the sign of their formation is sometimes the shadow in the water of the air that rotates. They draw curved paths that can last up to 15 minutes.

Tornadoes and climate change: What is the relationship?

Now, when we talk about tornadoes and waterspouts, what is the relationship between these phenomena and climate change? Why is its presence increasing in the Mediterranean Sea?

To answer this question, go to the laws of thermodynamics, which they tell us that An important parameter for a tornado to develop is the sea surface temperature..

This is because a warmer sea provides more energy to a tornado, which also makes it particularly violent.

As long as these tornadoes remain at sea or hit areas that are not densely populated there is no problem. However, when these phenomena touch the ground, passing through inhabited centers, cities or large industrial centers, we find ourselves with very serious damage and sometimes tragedies, says expert Daniele Ingemi, from meteored.

A recent scientific article, published in the international journal Scientific Reportsexplains exactly why a warmer than normal sea (that is, with a temperature above the climatological average) can stimulate these phenomena, such as those recently observed in southern Sicily.

In this study, the authors take as an example the tornado that hit the port area of ​​the Italian city of Taranto and the ILVA plant on November 28, 2012, causing one death and damage of 60 million euros.

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During that tornadic event, the temperature of the Ionian Sea was about +1 °C above the climatological average of the period (this being a very recent average, because it refers to the two decades from 1985-2005, and therefore related to a period in which global warming was already advanced), adds Ingemi.

The warmer the sea, the more tornadoes occur

Using the sea temperature data, they applied a high-resolution weather model (approximately 1 km grid), which proved to be able to correctly reproduce the trajectory of the supercell which led to the Taranto tornado.

The same authors carried out another simulation with the same exact model, but this time using sea temperatures as a reference with values ​​close to the climatological mean of the period.

This latest simulation showed how with a sea temperature of only -1°C (on the average, therefore), the famous supercell would not have formed and, consequently, the tornado would not have developed. On the contrary, by increasing the temperature in +1°C the tornado would have been even more intense.

The study, in which researchers such as Mario Marcello Miglietta, Jordi Mazon, Vincenzo Motola and Antonello Pasini have participated, has highlighted how the Mediterranean is becoming the increasingly frequent scene of this type of violent phenomenon.

Its intensity is called to increase more rapidly once a certain temperature value is exceeded, with inevitable repercussions in our territories.

Numerous Spanish experts have already confirmed the progressive warming of the waters of the Spanish Mediterranean, which only facilitates the conditions for the appearance of tornadoes.

Reference study: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-13170-0

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Environment section contact: crisisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

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