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Recent trends of thunderstorm and hailstorm frequency and their relationship to atmospheric characteristics in southwest Germany

Kunz, Michael and Sander, Julia and Kottmeier, Christoph (2009) Recent trends of thunderstorm and hailstorm frequency and their relationship to atmospheric characteristics in southwest Germany. International Journal of Climatology, 29, pp. 2283-2297. Wiley InterScience. DOI: 10.1002/joc.1865.

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Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/joc.1865/abstract

Abstract

In the context of climate change, it is of particular interest whether extreme events connected to severe thunderstorms have been increasing in number or intensity over the past few decades. Due to their small horizontal extent, such events are not entirely and uniquely captured by current observation systems. To obtain comprehensive information about the convective activity in the state of Baden-W�¼rttemberg (southwest Germany), we analysed different datasets for the period 1974â��2003. They comprise thunderstorm days detected at synoptic stations, hail damage data from a building insurance company, large-scale circulation and weather patterns, and convective indices derived from radiosonde observations at 12:00 UTC. While the annual number of thunderstorm days remained almost unchanged in the mean, hail damage and hail days significantly increased in the last three decades. Both damage and additional radar data indicate that the majority of hail days can be attributed to three specific circulation patterns. Two of the three patterns associated with the preferable occurrence of hail show a significant increase. Most of the commonly used convective indices that depend upon surface temperature and moisture reveal a positive trend regarding both the annual extreme values and the number of days above/below specific thresholds. A relationship was established between the indices and the annual number of hail damage days, yielding correlation coefficients between 0.65 and 0.80. In contrast to this, indices derived from temperature and moisture at higher levels exhibit either a negative or no significant trend. It is shown that the trend directions of the indices may be attributed to differential temperature and moisture stratification in the various atmospheric layers. The significant positive trends of both surface temperature and water vapour can be concisely expressed by an increase in wet-bulb potential temperature. This indicates the presence of warmer parcels throughout the whole troposphere during convection.

Document Type:Article
Title:Recent trends of thunderstorm and hailstorm frequency and their relationship to atmospheric characteristics in southwest Germany
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Kunz, Michaelmichael.kunz@kit.edu
Sander, Juliajulia.sander@dlr.de
Kottmeier, Christophchristoph.kottmeier@kit.edu
Date:20 February 2009
Journal or Publication Title:International Journal of Climatology
Refereed publication:Yes
In SCOPUS:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:29
DOI:10.1002/joc.1865
Page Range:pp. 2283-2297
Publisher:Wiley InterScience
Status:Published
Keywords:climate change; thunderstorm day; hail day; hail climatology; hail damage; insurance; convective indices
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport (old)
HGF - Program:Space (old)
HGF - Program Themes:W EO - Erdbeobachtung
DLR - Research area:Space
DLR - Program:W EO - Erdbeobachtung
DLR - Research theme (Project):W - Vorhaben Atmosphären- und Klimaforschung (old)
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Atmospheric Dynamics
Deposited By: Julia Sander
Deposited On:10 Dec 2010 12:29
Last Modified:12 Dec 2013 21:09

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