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Keywords:

  • hailstones;
  • climate models;
  • climate change;
  • UK

ABSTRACT

Hailstorms can pose a significant threat to society, by damaging property and disrupting livelihoods. An understanding of how hailstorm characteristics may change under a warming climate is therefore important for assessing the risk of hail damage for the insurance industry. A simple model of hailstone formation has been driven using meteorological data produced by a regional climate model (RCM) to project how hailstorm numbers and hailstone sizes could change during the 21st century in the UK. Evaluation of the modelled hailstone sizes, numbers and spatial distributions showed that they agreed reasonably well with observations. The effect of climate change on the numbers of damaging hailstorms in the UK (hailstones with diameters greater than 15 mm) was then investigated. A downward trend in the total number of damaging hailstorms during the 21st century was projected, with statistically significant trends for hailstones with diameters between 21 and 50 mm. Melting of hailstones made little contribution to the projected reductions. The results are subject to large uncertainties, some of which originate with the convective parameterization scheme used by the climate model.