Kilometer-scale modeling projects a tripling of Alaskan convective storms in future climate
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Basile Poujol; Andrew F. Prein; Andrew J. Newman
Publication Year: 2020

Cataloging Information

  • climate change
  • convection-permitting modeling
  • convective systems
  • lightning
  • mesoscale convective system MCS
  • precipitation
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 6, 2021
FRAMES Record Number: 64466


Convective storms produce heavier downpours and become more intense with climate change. Such changes could be even amplified in high-latitudes since the Arctic is warming faster than any other region in the world and subsequently moistening. However, little attention has been paid to the impact of global warming on intense thunderstorms in high latitude continental regions, where they can produce flash flooding or ignite wildfires. We use a model with kilometer-scale grid spacing to simulate Alaska’s climate under present and end of the century high emission scenario conditions. The current climate simulation is able to capture the frequency and intensity of hourly precipitation compared to rain gauge data. We apply a precipitation tracking algorithm to identify intense, organized convective systems, 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% in line with atmospheric moisture increases. These results 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.

Online Link(s):
Poujol, Basile; Prein, Andreas F.; Newman, Andrew J. 2020. Kilometer-scale modeling projects a tripling of Alaskan convective storms in future climate. Climate Dynamics 55(11-12):3543-3564.