Year of selection 2009
Institution Met Office
Country United Kingdom
A few years ago, in the town of Ottery St Mary in Devon, a localized but very intense hail storm left cars and buildings buried in up to nearly one meter of ice. Heavy rain accompanied this storm, which caused widespread flooding. Although it was a rare and unusual event, will such events become more severe and frequent in the future? There may be fewer storms, but they will likely be much more intense or, because the climate is warmer, hail reaching the ground may be smaller due to increased melting.
Dr. Michael Sanderson, senior climate researcher from the MET Office, will work in collaboration with the European Severe Storms Laboratory using a regional climate model in order to understand how the characteristics of hail storms may change over Europe between the present day and the 2050s. This regional climate model will be used with a well-established model of hail formation to understand how the frequency and severity of hail storms and the size of hail stones will evolve under a changing climate.
He has already assessed the hail model consisting of observed and simulated meteorological data from across the UK, which is an effective proxy for all of Europe. Dr. Michael Sanderson also measured this model’s ability to reproduce individual hail storms and compared the number of hail storms and hail stone sizes. Overall, the distribution and seasonality of hail storms were reasonable; however, the frequency turned out too high. He is now working to improve this model to take into account the disagreement between observations and hail databases as well as to test it on a number of observed hail storms. Finally, to enhance the level of certainty in the projections of hail storms, the improved hail model will be used with three new regional climate model simulations for the period from 1990 to 2060 in order to evaluate how hail storms will evolve across Europe under a changing climate.
His study of the evolution of hail storms across Europe and the resulting modeling tools will help build a greater understanding of the future impact of these destructive weather events.
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