How Many Types of Severe Hailstorm Environments Are There Globally?

Ziwei Zhou, John Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding how severe hailstorms will respond to climate change remains challenging partially due to an incomplete understanding of how different environments produce hail. Leveraging a record of 14,297 global potential severe hailstorms detected by spaceborne precipitation radar, here for the first time, we explore global differences in the five distinct environmental types producing these storms. Two are found over tropical plains and hills with high convective instability, high-moderate moisture, and low vertical wind shear (VWS). The third type are supercell environments characterized by strong VWS, with moderate instability and moisture, commonly occurring over mid-latitude plains. Higher latitude plains and elevated terrain reflect the final two, with moderate VWS and low melting height, instability, and moisture. The variety of hailstorm environment types illustrates distinctions in the associated convective mode and embryo type, highlighting that multiple environment types pose challenges for modeling present frequency and anticipating the response of hail to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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