Study tracks eastern Mediterranean climate trends
FRISCO — Rapidly warming sea surface temperatures are resulting in more extreme coastal rainstorms, Russian and German researchers said after analyzing climate data from the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
The impetus for the study was a deadly 2012 flash flood in the Russian city of Krymsk, near the Black Sea coast that killed 172 people. The Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean have warmed by about 2 degrees Celsius since the early 1980s.
“We carried out a number of very-high-resolution simulations with an atmospheric model to investigate the impact of rising sea surface temperatures on the formation of intense convective storms, which are often associated with extreme rainfall,” said Edmund Meredith, lead author of the study.
Simulations of the event with observed sea surface temperatures showed an increase in precipitation intensity of more than 300 percent, compared to comparable simulations using sea surface temperatures representative of the early 1980s.
“We were able to identify a very distinct change, which demonstrates that convective precipitation responds with a strong, non-linear signal to the temperature forcing,” said co-author Douglas Maraun.
At the end of June 2015, the nearby Olympic city of Sochi experienced an unusually intense precipitation event. Over 175 mm of rain was recorded in 12 hours, showing the relevance of the scientists work.
“Due to ocean warming, the lower atmosphere has become more unstable over the Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean. We therefore expect that events like those in Krymsk or Sochi will become more frequent in the future,” Maraun added.