The effects of climate change on hailstorms

Timothy H. Raupach, Olivia Martius, John T. Allen, Michael Kunz, Sonia Lasher-Trapp, Susanna Mohr, Kristen L. Rasmussen, Robert J. Trapp, Qinghong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Hailstorms are dangerous and costly phenomena that are expected to change in response to a warming climate. In this Review, we summarize current knowledge of climate change effects on hailstorms. As a result of anthropogenic warming, it is generally anticipated that low-level moisture and convective instability will increase, raising hailstorm likelihood and enabling the formation of larger hailstones; the melting height will rise, enhancing hail melt and increasing the average size of surviving hailstones; and vertical wind shear will decrease overall, with limited influence on the overall hailstorm activity, owing to a predominance of other factors. Given geographic differences and offsetting interactions in these projected environmental changes, there is spatial heterogeneity in hailstorm responses. Observations and modelling lead to the general expectation that hailstorm frequency will increase in Australia and Europe, but decrease in East Asia and North America, while hail severity will increase in most regions. However, these projected changes show marked spatial and temporal variability. Owing to a dearth of long-term observations, as well as incomplete process understanding and limited convection-permitting modelling studies, current and future climate change effects on hailstorms remain highly uncertain. Future studies should focus on detailed processes and account for non-stationarities in proxy relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Earth and Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Pollution
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Atmospheric Science


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