Powerful storms that cause extreme weather conditions such as flooding across Europe and North America, with the potential to wreak social and economic havoc, could increase threefold by the end of the 21st century due to climate change.
Pioneering new research, led by Dr Matt Hawcroft from the University of Exeter, has shown new and detailed information on projections of the frequency of extratropical cyclones.
The research shows that unless there is a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, there will be a stark increase in their frequency across large swathes of the Northern Hemisphere.
Crucially, the impact on local communities could be severe, with more intense and extreme storms leading to greater large-scale flooding events – similar to those experienced across Somerset in 2013/14, Cumbria in 2015 and Gloucestershire in 2007.
The research is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters on Tuesday, November 27 2018.
Dr Hawcroft, a Research Fellow in Exeter’s Mathematics department said: “It is expected that precipitation extremes will increase in intensity and frequency in a warmer climate. In this work, we have attributed those changes to the events which bring much of our large-scale rainfall and flooding. This additional information, on the dynamical nature of changes, is important since it provides clear information on the nature and impact of the changes in precipitation that can be used, for example, in policymaking and adaptation planning.”