Researchers Discover ‘Hole’ in Global Warming Predictions

Sep 22, 2004
Warming Hole

Temperatures may not rise as high in the central United States

In the future, global warming might not be as severe in the central United States as in other parts of the country, according to scientists at Saint Louis University and Iowa State University (ISU).

Using a detailed regional climate model, these researchers estimate summertime daily maximum temperatures will not climb as high in a Midwestern region -- centered on the Missouri/Kansas border -- as anywhere else in the United States. The hole stretches for hundreds of miles and includes Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Image: Climate change in daily maximum temperature (K) in summer (June-July-August) simulated by RegCM2. The change is the difference between the future scenario decade (2040s) and current decade (1990s). Warming-hole averages in our analyses use the region delineated by the inner frame (35–40_N, 99–92_W). SLU/ISU graphic

The findings are published in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters. The article’s lead author is Zaitao Pan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Saint Louis University. The researchers say the findings underscore the need to consider the impact of global warming on a region-by-region basis.

“The modeling showed that warming in the United States will be stronger in winter than summer and stronger at night than during the day,” Pan said. “But we found what looked to us like a ‘hole’ in the daytime warming in summer, which was a surprise.”

Pan collaborated with scientists at the Regional Climate Modeling Laboratory at ISU, where he earned his Ph.D. and conducted part of this research. After discovering the ‘hole’ in climate projections for the 2040s, Pan went back to carefully examine the observed maximum daily temperatures from 1975-2000 in a region that centers in eastern Kansas and touches parts of Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa.

“We found that, in fact, this hole already has started to develop,” he said.

Ray Arritt, agronomy professor at ISU, said the existence of this “hole” in the warming makes sense.

“Our model tells us the future climate will have more rainfall and wetter soil, so more of the sun’s energy goes into evaporating water than heating the air,” he said. “Rainfall in the northern Great Plains already has increased by about 10 percent over the past few decades, which is consistent with our predictions.”

Team members caution that independent evaluations are needed to confirm this finding and to determine whether the ‘hole’ might be a temporary phenomenon that will disappear as global warming becomes more severe in the latter half of the 21st century.

In addition to Pan and Arritt, co-authors are Gene Takle, Bill Gutowski, Chris Anderson and Moti Segal of ISU.

Source: Saint Louis University

Explore further: SpaceX close to figuring out rocket failure during launch

Related Stories

Tapping the shale

Aug 04, 2014

Growth in scientific knowledge seems to lead to an exacerbation in debate over politically sensitive issues rather than resolution? Nuclear power, global warming, vaccination, creationism, fracking… the list goes on.

Recommended for you

What is the newest planet?

2 hours ago

With astronomers discovering new planets and other celestial objects all the time, you may be wondering what the newest planet to be discovered is. Well, that depends on your frame of reference. If we are ...

Catching Earth at aphelion

2 hours ago

Do you feel a little… distant today? The day after the 4th of July weekend brings with it the promise of barbecue leftovers and discount fireworks. It also sees our fair planet at aphelion, or its farthest ...

Opportunity's 7th Mars winter to include new study area

3 hours ago

Operators of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity plan to drive the rover into a valley this month where Opportunity will be active through the long-lived rover's seventh Martian winter, examining outcrops ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.