Spanish researchers attribute giant hail to climate change

huge hailstones

In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists from several universities in Spain have linked a massive hail storm that occurred in the province of Girona in August 2022 to the impacts of climate change. And it is increasingly thought that the increase in hail is caused by climate change.

In this article we are going to tell you why Spanish researchers attribute giant hail to climate change.

Historic hailstorm

huge hail balls

Researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), the University of Valladolid (UVA) and the Pablo de Olavide University of Seville (UPO) have determined that the convergence of a marine heat wave and human-induced climate change played a role. important role in the appearance of an unprecedented hailstorm, with hailstones up to 12 cm in diameter, in the province of Girona on August 30, 2022.

The Complutense University reported today that Researchers have established, for the first time, a direct relationship between climate change and this specific type of phenomena through the use of numerical simulations.

Experts specifically highlight the fact that the formation of a supercell, a massive and destructive rotating storm, was facilitated by an unparalleled level of convective energy. This convective energy serves as a catalyst for the creation of these supercells in the atmosphere, resulting in a more intense storm that promotes the development of massive hail. Hailstorms of this magnitude cause significant physical and material damage.

After the storm, which seriously affected the Baix Empordà region, Great material destruction was observed in vehicles, roofs and crop fields, numerous injuries and, unfortunately, the first fatality. recorded in Europe due to hail in the last two decades.

Why does hail occur so frequently?

ice balls

Mariano Sastre, researcher at the Department of Earth Physics and Astrophysics at UCM, highlighted the importance of the study to improve our understanding of severe hail occurrences. He also underscores the urgency of implementing strategies to combat climate change and alleviate its detrimental effects, particularly in communities that are most susceptible to its impacts.

The researchers carried out a study, the findings of which were published in Geophysical Research Letters, by performing two different sets of numerical simulations. The first set replicated current conditions, while the second recreated the pre-industrial level, which represents the global temperature indicator before the Industrial Revolution.

This period is recognized as the starting point for the constant and continuous release of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. It was during this study that the formation of colossal hailstones was facilitated by a marine heat wave.

Researchers have noted that this particular level serves as a benchmark for measuring the impact of these emissions and the resulting consequences of global warming. Furthermore, they emphasized that, compared to pre-industrial conditions, the model consistently generated hail sizes significantly smaller than those observed in reality.

The findings also provide insight into the importance of the marine heat wave, a phenomenon in which the temperature of a sea or ocean rises significantly, when promoting a "convective" atmosphere that facilitates the development of colossal hail.

Sastre explained that when the simulations eliminated both anthropogenic forcing and the impact of the marine heat wave, there was a significant decrease in the convective conditions that favor the development of large hail. This information is crucial for the development of a warning protocol that can effectively notify the population of possible hailstorms.

More research is required to achieve a deeper understanding of the intricate connections between extreme weather events and the influence of human-induced climate change.

Investigation objectives

hail damage

One of the researchers' next goals is to assist in the development of a warning system that weather services can use to quickly notify the public should a similar event occur in the future. The devastating hail storm that occurred on August 30, 2022 in the municipality of La Bisbal d'Empordà, Girona, deeply saddened Spain. This catastrophic event caused the tragic death of a 20-month-old child and injured 67 people, while ice balls up to 12 centimeters in diameter rained down.

Disturbing images captured by residents showed these huge stones sinking into pools, resembling a meteor shower and creating an apocalyptic scene. It has now been determined that the main cause of this calamity was the increase in atmospheric temperature caused by human activities.

In a recent publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Carlos Calvo Sancho and his team present the findings of their study, which used numerical simulations to elucidate the factors contributing to the storm's unprecedented intensity. The results indicate that the combination of abundant atmospheric energy and a marine heat wave during that particular summer in the Mediterranean can only account for the magnitude of the storm.

It is important to note that without the influence of human-induced warming, the formation of hail of such a substantial size would not have been possible. This hailstorm stands as the largest ever recorded in our country and tragically resulted in the loss of a life, being the first fatality caused by hail in the last twenty years.

The amount of giant hail has increased significantly. According to Calvo Sancho, a predoctoral researcher at the University of Valladolid (UVa), when the simulation is carried out with normal sea temperatures for that specific time of year, the supercell that developed over Girona remains intact, but no unusually large mass is formed. . hail.

In the last three years, from 2021 to 2023, we have witnessed the same frequency of massive or extremely large hail events as during the entire period from 2011 to 2019. This alarming trend has led experts at the European level to identify hail. as the most potent threat associated with future severe weather. The direct impact it has on people, agriculture and property makes it a very worrying phenomenon.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about why Spanish researchers attribute giant hail to climate change.


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