Summer weather is stalling


“Giant airstreams encircle our globe in the upper troposphere – we call them planetary waves,” explains Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and co-author of the second paper. “Now evidence is mounting that humanity is messing with these enormous winds. Fueled by human-made greenhouse-gas emissions, global warming is probably distorting the natural patterns.” Usually the waves, conveying chains of high- and low-pressure domains, travel eastwards between the equator and the North Pole. “Yet when they get trapped due to a subtle resonance mechanism,” says Schellnhuber, “they slow down so the weather in a given region gets stuck. Rains can grow into floods, sunny days into heat waves, and tinder-dry conditions into wildfires.”

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“While it might not sound so bad to have more prolonged sunny episodes in summer, this is in fact a major climate risk,” says Dim Coumou from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, lead-author of the review paper and co-author of the wildfire case study. “We have rising temperatures due to human-caused global warming which intensifies heat waves and heavy rainfall, and on top of that we could get dynamical changes that make weather extremes even stronger – this is quite worrying.” This summer is an impressive example of how stalling weather can impact societies: persistent hot and dry conditions in Western Europe, Russia and parts of the US threaten cereal yields in these breadbaskets.

Source: Nice sunny days can grow into heat waves — and wildfires: summer weather is stalling