The Effect of Climate Change on Tornado Frequency and Magnitude

This topic submitted by Michael Pateman and Drew Vankat ( ) on 4/28/02 .

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Our research project concerns the phenomena of tornadoes, their frequency and magnitude, and possible correlations between that and climate. Investigations will be made into the effect of events such as El Nino and La Nina in regards to tornado occurrence and strength. Research will be conducted with data from 1950 to 1999, and in several geographic regions: Texas, Nebraska, and Ohio. We hope this will give us both a broad overview of the topic, as well as more localized data showing what happens to locations regularly experiencing tornadoes, and those that lack much pronounced tornado activity. Relationships in our data could assist authorities in preparation for aid to families and businesses, as well as further strengthen the belief that we must reduce emission of harmful pollutants into the environment.

Results from data show a stronger correlation in tornado magnitudes by state over the 1950-1999 time period, as well as in El-Nino and La-Nina years. This suggests that those events affect our three states in similar manners.

Results pertaining to frequency are less conclusive, as p-values tend to either be split a slight tendency to show a significant difference in data sets and rank orders, as detailed in our report. This means that there is a lack of strong evidence to relate tornado frequency to El-Nino or La-Nina years. Variations in this generalized conclusion are detailed in the results and conclusion sections.

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