Inhabitants of the tropics can expect to see more severe storms if sea-surface temperatures in the region continue to rise as Earthâ€™s climate changes.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Inhabitants of the tropics can expect to see more severe storms if sea-surface temperatures in the region continue to rise as Earthâ€™s climate changes.
The growth of â€œthunderheadsâ€ â€” the massive and extremely tall clouds that generate the most severe thunderstorms â€” is driven by the rise of warm, moist air. A NASA satellite designed to monitor such deep convective clouds detects about 6,000 of them each day, says George Aumann, a climate scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Â He and JPL colleague Joao Teixeira have analyzed five yearsâ€™ worth of data from the satellite. They reported December 19 in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union that such rainfall-producing clouds are more frequent over areas where ocean temperatures are warm â€” a finding that bolsters a previous study that showed an increase in global rainfall as climate has warmed in recent decades. Â Â