Sara L. Van Klooster and Paul J. Roebber

Journal of Climate

Published date June 15, 2009

Surface-Based Convective Potential in the Contiguous United States in a Business-as-Usual Future Climate

  • States that severe deep moist convection represents an important aspect of regional climate, particularly in the central United States, where damage, injuries, and fatalities are a frequent result of such phenomena
  • Presents a “perfect prog” approach to estimating the potential for surface-based convective initiation and severity based upon the large-scale variables well resolved by climate model simulations
  • Applies the scheme for the contiguous United States using the output from the Parallel Climate Model, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change third assessment A2 (business as usual) as input
  • Finds that, for this run, relative to interannual variability, the potential frequency of deep moist convection does not change, but the potential for severe convection is found to increase east of the Rocky Mountains and most notably in the “tornado alley” region of the U.S. Midwest
  • Finds that this increase in severe potential is mostly tied to increases in thermodynamic instability as a result of ongoing warm season surface warming and moistening