Recent research has focused on the question of whether storms will have greater electrical activity in the coming decades and whether these cases will be more frequent. To get clues, the study authors have been guided by chemical footprints left by storms of the past on stalactites.
A team including, among others, Christopher Maupin, Courtney Schumacher and Brendan Roark, all from Texas A&M University in the United States, analyzed the oxygen isotopes of stalactites between 30,000 and 50,000 years old from Texas caves, to find out the trends of past storms.
They found that as storm regimes over the millennia adopt patterns of increased electrical activity, the emergence of those new patterns coincides with known abrupt global climate changes that occurred during the last ice age, which lasted about 120,000 years ago. until about 11,500.
The strongest storms in the southern Great Plains of the United States, a region that spans parts of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, are some of the largest on Earth.
In recent years, these storms have increased in frequency and intensity, and new research shows that these changes are related to climate variability.
Lightning storm in the southern United States Great Plains. (Photo: Chris Maupin / Texas A&M University)
“Large storms that cover hundreds of miles provide about 50-80% of the rain in Texas,” explains Schumacher. “These storms today have different isotopic signatures.”
The storms are so big that even though most of the rain occurs in Oklahoma, the rain in Texas will still carry the isotopic signature of these huge storms, as Maupin argues. Large storms cause characteristic isotopic signatures, which are collected in stalactites.
And the variability in stalactites cannot be explained by temperature changes alone, as Maupin reasons.
The study is titled “Abrupt Southern Great Plains thunderstorm shifts linked to glacial climate variability.” And it has been published in the academic journal Nature Geoscience. (Source: NCYT from Amazings)