Scientists are beginning to observe connections between climate change and the recent increase in derechos — large, fast-moving, violent thunderstorm complexed with exceptionally strong winds — but more research and data are needed, the Washington Post reports. Climate change is increasing the occurrence of the conditions necessary for derechos to occur. However, increased weather monitoring is also increasing the number of observed wind gusts above 75 mph, complicating the establishment of a direct connection between climate change and derechos.
“If the odds of hot conditions are extending into the time of year that the atmospheric circulation is conducive to the storms, then global warming can increase the odds of those ingredients coming together [for a derecho],” Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh told the Post. The nine biggest derechos (as defined by strongest wind gusts) have all occurred in the last 10 years, with an exceptional correlation to high temperatures. Climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, amplified the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme heat and heat waves. (Washington Post $)