What is it about?

Thunderstorms produce heavier downpours and become more intense with climate change, and the Arctic is warming faster than any other region in the world. We use a state-of-the-art climate model to simulate Alaska’s climate under present and end of the century conditions under "business as usual" CO2 emissions. We identify intense, organized thunderstorms, which are projected to triple in frequency and extend to the northernmost regions of Alaska under future climate conditions. Peak rainfall rates in the core of the storms will intensify by 37%.

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Why is it important?

While many studies focused on the impact of climate change on thunderstorms in the tropics and the midlle latitudes, little attention has been paid to the impact of global warming on intense thunderstorms in the Arctic region, where they can produce flash flooding or ignite wildfires. However these results show that, although thunderstorms are rare in the Arctic under current climate conditions, they could become much more common in a future climate. This could have severe impacts on Alaska’s economy and ecology since floods are already the costliest natural disaster in central Alaska and an increasing number of thunderstorms could result in more wildfires ignitions.


This article shows that climate change can have strong impacts on thunderstorms in the Arctic, but this is only one study, from one simulation in Alaska. It would be very interesting to further examine this topic and see if similar changes in thunderstorm activity could happen in other similar regions (Scandinavia, Siberia).

Basile Poujol
Ecole Normale Superieure

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Kilometer-scale modeling projects a tripling of Alaskan convective storms in future climate, Climate Dynamics, September 2020, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s00382-020-05466-1.
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