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New research finds extreme thunderstorms could increase with warming temperatures in tropics and subtropics


Some of the world’s most intense thunderstorms, associated with destructive impacts like high winds, large hail, and flash floods, occur in the tropical and subtropical regions, including parts of the southern U.S. However, scientists have been uncertain about how such storms will respond in the context of warming temperatures.

Helping to answer this question, new research, funded by NOAA Research’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program, assesses projected changes in the amount of energy present in the atmosphere to fuel storms, a key severe weather ingredient known as CAPE. The research team found that the magnitude of CAPE extremes, in the 95th percentile, increases 6-14% in global warming simulations across all models evaluated. Similarly, they also found that the frequency of favorable extreme thunderstorm conditions (including both CAPE and vertical wind shear) increases 13-32% with warming. The authors support their findings with observational evidence and note that the potential for damaging thunderstorms in tropical and subtropical regions could increase substantially in 2081-2100 .

View the early online release at PNAS.


About MAPP
The Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program is a competitive research program in NOAA Research’s Climate Program Office. MAPP’s mission is to enhance the Nation’s and NOAA’s capability to understand, predict, and project variability and long-term changes in Earth’s system and mitigate human and economic impacts. To achieve its mission, MAPP supports foundational research, transition of research to applications, and engagement across other parts of NOAA, among partner agencies, and with the external research community. MAPP plays a crucial role in enabling national preparedness for extreme events like drought and longer-term climate changes. For more information, please visit

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