Scientists have discovered a method to measure the way that wind patterns changed in the past, which indicates how a change in the Earth’s temperature will affect storm systems.
Global warming is no longer just a probable threat – it’s a certainty. COVID-19 has been the first indication that our environment is going to be fighting back after decades of mistreatment. One of the other predicted effects of global warming is radical changes to storm systems – but understanding how previous rises in the world’s average temperature affected storm systems has been impossible to measure… until now. Science Daily reported on how global warming will change the winds and how deep sea dust provides the answer.
“The westerlies — or westerly winds — play an important role in weather and climate both locally and on a global scale, by influencing precipitation patterns, impacting ocean circulation and steering tropical cyclones. So, finding a way to assess how they will change as the climate warms is crucial.”
climate researchers from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have discovered that it is possible to study ancient wind patterns by using dust in ancient, deep sea sediments as an indirect tracer of wind. This can be used as a proxy for what we may experience in a future warming world.
Lamont graduate student Jordan Abell and his advisor, Gisela Winckler, developed a way to apply paleoclimatology — the study of past climate — to the question of the behaviour of the westerly winds, and found evidence suggesting that atmospheric circulation patterns will change with climate warming, according to Science Daily.
And by studying the patterns in deep sea dust, researchers discovered that during the warm parts of the Pliocene (a period 3-5 million years ago, when the Earth was about two to four degrees Celsius warmer than today but had approximately the same concentration of CO2 in the air as we do now), the westerlies, globally, were located closer towards the poles than during the colder intervals afterwards.
“By using the Pliocene as an analogue for modern global warming, it seems likely that the movement of the westerlies towards the poles observed in the modern era will continue with further human-induced warming,” explained Winckler.
In the Earth history record, tracking down movements of wind and how they’ve changed, that’s been elusive because we didn’t have a tracer for it. Now we do.”
The data also confirms that the wind and precipitation patterns will change with global warming and that these winds will have huge implications for storm systems.
“We could immediately see the patterns. The data are so clear. Our work is consistent with modern observations, and suggests that wind patterns will change with climate warming,” said Lamont graduate student Jordan Abell.
You can find the full report on how global warming will change winds and storm systems from the Earth Institute at Columbia University here.
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