The frequency of hail storms, thunderstorms, and high wind events has decreased by nearly 50 percent on average throughout China since 1960.
The findings, published in Scientific Reports, are based on one of the most comprehensive studies on trends in local severe weather patterns to date.
“Most of the data published on trends in severe weather has been incomplete or collected for a limited short period,” says Fuqing Zhang, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science at Penn State University. “The record we used is, to the best of our knowledge, the largest, both in time scale and area of land covered.”
The changes could be linked to a drop in the strength of the East Asian Summer Monsoon, scientists say.
“We believe that changes in monsoon intensity are affecting severe weather in the area because of the strong correlation we found, but we cannot say the monsoon is the exclusive cause,” says Zhang. “A monsoon is one of the major drivers of severe weather because it affects the three necessary ‘ingredients’ for severe weather, which are wind shear, instability, and triggering.”
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