Man-made global warming is not going to make it harder to predict the weather, according to a new study by University of Missouri scientists.
The jet stream is key to the ability of meteorologists to forecast short-term weather patterns, and Atmospheric scientist Anthony Lupo and doctoral student Andrew Jensen wanted to see if adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would affect jet stream flow.
It didn’t. Examining climate model outputs, Lupo and Jensen found jet stream flow changes up to 35 times a year, similar to today’s climate. Weather forecasts are made within the 10 to 12 days between jet stream flow changes, making this pattern crucial for forecasts.
“This 10 to 12-day character is not going to change with climate change,” Lupo told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Weather patterns would remain just as predictable three decades from now as they are today, Lupo said.
“As long as we have a warmer equator and cooler polar regions, we’re going to have these jet streams,” Lupo said. “They might get weaker in terms of their speed, but that can happen regardless of how the Earth warms.”
It doesn’t directly touch on this topic, however, Lupo’s work indirectly challenges theories put forward that global warming was causing the jet stream to become “lazier” and result in more persistent blocking patterns.
Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis, a chief proponent of this theory, has been featured in the media for tying the recent deep freeze and snow storms in the eastern U.S. to global warming.
“When this pattern is in place, nor’easters are likely to form along the boundary between the cold air and the warm Atlantic, fueled by the dynamics in the flow of the jet stream along the eastern seaboard,” Francis said of Winter Storm Grayson that hit in January.
“We can’t say this particular storm is caused by global warming, but we can say that the persistent ridge/trough pattern, which is one factor in causing nor’easters, is likely to occur more frequently,” Francis said.
Scientists aren’t sold on this theory, and neither is Lupo.
“It does kind of fly in the face of Francis’s paper, which kind of got more press coverage than other papers,” Lupo said.
Lupo’s new study does not address the effects global warming could have on the frequency or intensity of weather events, only the future predictability of jet stream flows with additional atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Lupo said the study did not look beyond the mid-21st Century to ensure predictions were as accurate as possible.
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