January 19, 2023
Journal Article

Potential weakening of the June 2012 North American derecho under future warming conditions


Derechos produce widespread and long-lived damaging wind, causing severe life and property loss. This study investigates how the June 2012 North American derecho could unfold in the future with global warming. Convection-permitting regional model simulations of the derecho as observed are compared with simulations under a pseudo global warming scenario of the future environments by the end of the 21st century following the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP5-8.5). The control simulations can well reproduce the observed derecho features, including storm evolution, surface wind, and precipitation, except for a 2-hour delay relative to observations. Compared to the control simulations, the derecho shrinks and decays earlier in the future environments, with much less destructive impacts on the Mid-Atlantic coastal areas. The shrinkage of the derecho is attributed to the lower relative humidity on both sides of the derecho propagation path under global warming, which suppresses updraft and strengthens downdraft, impeding the spatial extent of the derecho. The premature decay is due to the intensification of an isolated deep convection (IDC) event that develops ahead of the derecho. The meridional gradient of future warming strengthens the synoptic environments, enhancing convergence in a corridor of higher instability that facilitates intensification and continuous development of the IDC event. By consuming most of the energy and moisture on the derecho propagation path, the IDC hinders the derecho development in the Mid-Atlantic coastal areas. Focusing on a single derecho event, this study reveals how changes in the thermodynamic environment with warming could induce complex changes in the derecho.

Published: January 19, 2023


Li J., Y. Qian, L. Leung, X. Chen, Z. Yang, and Z. Feng. 2023. Potential weakening of the June 2012 North American derecho under future warming conditions. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 128, no. 2:Art. No. e2022JD037494. PNNL-SA-175153. doi:10.1029/2022JD037494

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