Why Europe's climate faces a stormy future

Apr 03, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Europe is likely to be hit by more violent winter storms in the future. Now a new study into the effects of climate change has found out why.

A weakening of the warm current, the Meridional Overturning Circulation, during the next century has already been predicted by , with suggestions it could lead to colder and reduced warming in Britain.

But new research by scientists at the University of Reading's Walker Institute and the University of Cologne suggests that the weakening of the warm current could also partially shut down Europe's protection against violent storms blowing in from the ocean.

The research, published on April 1 in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggests that without such strong warm ocean currents, the regional temperature variations in the North Atlantic will increase.

Such temperature variations, or gradients, help to power storms as they brew up over the ocean. The increase in regional gradients in the Atlantic suggests that the number of storms following a more southerly track, therefore hitting land in Europe, will also increase as greenhouse gas levels rise in the atmosphere.

This is contrary to predictions about changes to storm tracks in other parts of the globe, where increasing temperatures are expected to cause storms to reach than is currently the norm.

The findings are likely to be useful for planners, policy makers and businesses that will need to prepare for the impending changes to our climate in the years ahead.

Dr Tim Woollings, from the University of Reading's Department of Meteorology, said: "From the studied, we expect more storms will hit Europe as the 21st century progresses. We found that changes in ocean currents, in response to increasing levels of , are crucial in shaping the North Atlantic storm track changes.

"Predictions showed obvious changes to expected weather patterns by the end of the century, but it is not yet clear exactly when this signal may first emerge.

"Predicting future changes to storm patterns can be difficult, and we have shown that in order to improve confidence in these predictions we need to improve our observations and models of ocean currents."

The researchers studied and compared a number of climate models, including those used to help compile the influential fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Explore further: Coral reveals long-term link between Pacific winds, global climate

More information: The full paper, ‘Response of the North Atlantic storm track to climate change shaped by ocean-atmosphere coupling', by Woollings, T, JM Gregory, JG Pinto, M Reyers and DJ Brayshaw, is published online by Nature Geoscience on 1 April, 2012. www.nature.com/ngeo/index.html

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User comments : 19

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StarGazer2011
2.4 / 5 (19) Apr 03, 2012
Doomsday postponed again..."Predictions showed obvious changes to expected weather patterns by the end of the century, but it is not yet clear exactly when this signal may first emerge."

but please send money..."we need to improve our observations and models of ocean currents."

Hilarious what gullible people will swallow if you attach the word 'scientist' to the authority figure. Just priests taking advantage of the dull witted, same as always.
elliotscientific
5 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2012
Publishing research on April 1st is never a good idea.
rubberman
4.4 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2012
Doomsday postponed again..."Predictions showed obvious changes to expected weather patterns by the end of the century, but it is not yet clear exactly when this signal may first emerge."

but please send money..."we need to improve our observations and models of ocean currents."

Hilarious what gullible people will swallow if you attach the word 'scientist' to the authority figure. Just priests taking advantage of the dull witted, same as always.


Clearly you know more...thank you for sharing your infinite wisdom! Please tell us what we can REALLY expect.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.9 / 5 (43) Apr 03, 2012
Reductions in the flow rate of the Gulf Stream have already been measured.

Vendicar_Decarian
0.8 / 5 (44) Apr 03, 2012
I trust Scientists to know science.

I trust Star Tard to know nothing.

"Hilarious what gullible people will swallow if you attach the word 'scientist' to the authority figure." - StarTard
NotParker
2.3 / 5 (9) Apr 03, 2012
"the weakening of the warm current could also partially shut down Europe's protection against violent storms blowing in from the ocean"

Colder = Deadlier.

Colder is here. Just look at Europe's horribly cold winter.
GSwift7
2.7 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2012
From the caption at the top of the story:

Europe is likely to be hit by more violent winter storms in the future. Now a new study into the effects of climate change has found out why


I know that this is just a press release, probably written by a non-scientist who wasn't connected with the science, but isn't that caption hillarious?

It sounds great untill you really think about what they said. lol.

So, keeping in mind that this is a press release with probably zero official connection to the researchers:

Reading it litterally, it says that they made a prediction and now they have a theory to justify the prediction. Doesn't that make it sound like the prediction was just something they made up? That's probably a good example of someone writing a caption too late in the afternoon on a Friday. They surely didn't mean to say that.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2012
There is a point I would like to suggest for discussion in regard to the actual scientific paper though. If they are using the IPCC models, then I have to question this use of them. As far as I know, they aren't designed for this. I know that none of them really have good regional resolution in regard to weather, and the models also intentionally ignore ocean cycles like the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The guys above could be right, but I don't think this method is very robust for predicting regional weather patterns. I do agree with what he says about the need for more ocean observations. The ARGO floats are great, but there just aren't enough of them and they tend to get bunched up in areas where the wind and currents carry them.

Any thoughts from the rest of you about using climate models in this way?

Also, ocean cores from the North Atlantic show strong evidence that the gulf stream current persisted through previous interglacials.
rubberman
5 / 5 (4) Apr 03, 2012
GS7 - I agree with the requirement for additional means of monitoring the oceans as well, as far as the models go...it's nice for the modellers when reality unfolds as a model predicted, as soon as one model is wrong, it calls them all to question (regarding climate anyways). As climate models have shown, the complexity of the system they are trying to model leaves the models wanting for either predicted results or timeline of prediction. For something like this it's more a case of "IF this happens, physics dictates THIS will happen"...so it's not a big stretch to say that if the NAO current weakens considerably or stops, Europe will get colder and endure harsher winters. But at the end of the day, were still trying to predict the future right?
Vendicar_Decarian
0.4 / 5 (39) Apr 03, 2012
There are no IPCC models.

"If they are using the IPCC models, then I have to question this use of them." = GNotSoSwift

You are just blowing wind.
Parsec
5 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2012
It surprises me that people would interpret the simple name of a complex phenomena like 'Global Warming' would imply something scientific. 'Global Warming' is a NAME. The actual phenomena it labels is the complex reactions of the earth's atmosphere to increased levels of greenhouse gases concentrations.

There should be no surprise that screwing with our atmosphere on a global scale would produce effects that result in some parts of the earth getting cooler, or having more storms, at least for a while.

Consider the end of the last ice age. While the overall earth got warmer, the dumping of vast quantities of fresh water in the Atlantic shut off the Gulf stream for about 1000 years, resulting in Europe getting colder for that time. In other words, the earth getting warmer caused Europe to get colder, for awhile.
StarGazer2011
1.7 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2012
I trust Scientists to know science.

I trust Star Tard to know nothing.

"Hilarious what gullible people will swallow if you attach the word 'scientist' to the authority figure." - StarTard


Arguments from authority are fallacious. Peasants in the 15th century would have agreed with you Vendicar - 'I trust Priests to know morality'.

I dont know for sure that CO2 doesnt pose a danger to civilisation, but neither does anyone else. We need to do some empirical research, and take a few of the billions spent on advocacy, climate 'edumacation' and renewables; and invest it into satellites to measure aerosols and water vapor.

As long as they are trying to get cash using computer simulations, I am not buying it. Snake oil merchants pose as authorities too Vendicar, do you accept the arguments of 'Christian Scientists'?

Benni
2 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2012
shut off the Gulf stream for about 1000 years, resulting in Europe getting colder for that time. In other words, the earth getting warmer caused Europe to get colder, for awhile.


And now Europe has that pesky Hadron collider in Cern to deal with, What with dumping all those excess manmade neutrinos into the environment has really screwed up their weather, and I can prove this too, just look at the timeline of weather events pre-Hadron startup & the timeline post-Hadron startup.

Hey, Europe, look on the bright side of your climate change, one manmade event has offset the other & you're at zero-sum, you're geniuses, just make your collider about four times the present size & you can fix the rest of the warming problem.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.4 / 5 (38) Apr 04, 2012
"Arguments from authority are fallacious." - StarTard

And that is why StarTard doesn't take the advice of a trained and licensed doctor, but rather seeks medical advice from random bums and drug addicts he finds in back allies.

As I said. I trust Star Tard to know nothing.
thermodynamics
1 / 5 (2) Apr 04, 2012
GS7: I just looked at the term "high resolution" for the GCMs. It looks like they are about 200 mi X 200 mi (ECHAM4) or 150 mi X 150 mi (HADCOM3)for atmosphere. However, HADCOM3 also uses 6 ocean grids for each atmospheric grid and 20 levels for the atmosphere. While that is not incredibly fine resolution, it appears sufficient to see large currents and large wind patterns on a regional scale. This level gives them tens of millions of elements to look at.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2012
There should be no surprise that screwing with our atmosphere on a global scale would produce effects that result in some parts of the earth getting cooler, or having more storms, at least for a while.


The trouble with that scenario is that historical records show that cold is more responsible for hurricanes and tornadoes than warmth.

gregor1
1 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2012
"Please tell us what we can REALLY expect." That's easy. The unexpected.
Vendi your faith in scientists is quaint but clearly shows you have never worked in the field. As to climate science itself, the disgraceful record of Mann, Hansen, Phil Jones and Trenberth has thrown their entire discipline into disrepute. They are flim flam men if the worst possible kind. The damage they have done to the respectability of science is immeasurable.
gregor1
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2012
Any one with faith in climate scientists should definitely watch this
http://notrickszo...ia-laws/
rubberman
5 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2012
"Please tell us what we can REALLY expect." That's easy. The unexpected.
Vendi your faith in scientists is quaint but clearly shows you have never worked in the field. As to climate science itself, the disgraceful record of Mann, Hansen, Phil Jones and Trenberth has thrown their entire discipline into disrepute. They are flim flam men if the worst possible kind. The damage they have done to the respectability of science is immeasurable.


Yeah...cause flim flam men write a strikingly accurate 30 year predicitions of the future of climate for their 1st year university term paper. The respectability is very well founded. You are rediculous.

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