Future Global Convective Environments in CMIP6 Models

Chiara Lepore, Ryan Abernathey, Naomi Henderson, John T. Allen, Michael K. Tippett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The response of severe convective storms to a warming climate is poorly understood outside of a few well studied regions. Here, projections from seven global climate models from the CMIP6 archive, for both historical and future scenarios, are used to explore the global response in variables that describe favorability of conditions for the development of severe storms. The variables include convective available potential energy (CAPE), convection inhibition (CIN), 0–6 km vertical wind shear (S06), storm relative helicity (SRH), and covariate indices (i.e., severe weather proxies) that combine them. To better quantify uncertainty, understand variable sensitivity to increasing temperature, and present results independent from a specific scenario, we consider changes in convective variables as a function of global average temperature increase across each ensemble member. Increases to favorable convective environments show an overall frequency increases on the order of 5%–20% per °C of global temperature increase, but are not regionally uniform, with higher latitudes, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, showing much larger relative changes. The driving mechanism of these changes is a strong increase in CAPE that is not offset by factors that either resist convection (CIN), or modify the likelihood of storm organization (S06, SRH). Severe weather proxies are not the same as severe weather events. Hence, their projected increases will not necessarily translate to severe weather occurrences, but they allow us to quantify how increases in global temperature will affect the occurrence of conditions favorable to severe weather.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021EF002277
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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