‘Weather whiplash’ events, aka rapidly changing weather, are a part of life for anyone living outside the tropics. Almost everyone has heard the familiar refrain: “if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” Kent State University researcher, Cameron Lee, however, is taking another, more analytical look at weather whiplash. Funded by CPO’s Climate Observations and Monitoring (COM) program, Lee explored the long-term changes in shorter-term climate variability. His work, published in the International Journal of Climatology, investigated how climate change may be impacting the frequency or severity of these whiplash events. Notably, his research also represents the first examination of the full 70-year trends of many variables in the recently-released ERA5 reanalysis dataset.
Lee found that, globally, whiplash events are increasing substantially in all seasons. Since 1985, the increase is even more pronounced. The most widespread changes appear in the Southern Ocean, Africa, South America, and in regions of coastal upwelling. There are also significant decreases where the Arctic Ocean meets the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, especially in the Greenland, Iceland and Norwegian Seas, and more recently, in northeastern Canada. Lee’s research offers some explanations on why temperature variability is changing based on trends in other meteorological variables, adding to a growing body of climate change literature examining temperature variability trends.
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