Tornadoes. A climate view of tornadoes. Possibly the hardest brief yet. There is very little that is certain about climate change and tornadoes. When and where a tornado outbreak in the US occurs is predominantly determined by weather patterns that bring together the warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and the cold dry air from the North. Because these weather patterns are very variable from year to year, it is hard to establish any long term effect of climate change.
In a talk I was giving last week on the physics of thunderstorms, to a joint meeting of the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Engineering and Technology, I could not resist mentioning tornadoes. Always spectacular and at times devastating, I have been fascinated by them for years. We tend to hear more about tornadoes in the US, and they do have around 75% of the world’s tornado occurrences, but there are many other locations across the globe that have the right conditions for tornadoes to form.