Europe to Suffer Colder and Stormier Future

Scientists have previously predicted that Britain will likely see a drop in sea and land temperatures over the next century due to changes in the climate as a result of greenhouse gas increases, and now scientists believe that Britain may also see an increase in violent storms.

Storm approaching the Solway Firth
Storm approaching the Solway Firth

Why are these changes predicted to take place?

Because of a weakening of the warm North Atlantic ocean current, the Meridional Overturning Circulation, which transports heat from the tropics north, regulating temperatures; subsequently, any weakening will immediately affect temperatures throughout higher latitudes.

But such a weakening and drop in temperature will also mean an increase in regional temperature variations in the North Atlantic. Such variations help power storms as they form over the ocean, and an increase in these variations – or gradients – is likely to simultaneously increase the number of violent storms hitting land in Europe.

“From the climate models studied, we expect more storms will hit Europe as the 21st century progresses,” says Dr Tim Woollings, from the University of Reading’s Department of Meteorology, who along with scientists from the University of Cologne published their results in the journal Nature Geoscience. “We found that changes in ocean currents, in response to increasing levels of greenhouse gases, are crucial in shaping the North Atlantic storm track changes.”

“Predictions showed obvious changes to expected weather patterns by the end of the century, but it is not yet clear exactly when this signal may first emerge,” he added. “Predicting future changes to storm patterns can be difficult, and we have shown that in order to improve confidence in these predictions we need to improve our observations and models of ocean currents.”

Source: University of Reading
Image Source: Vic Sharp

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