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Atmospheric scientists begin field campaign to study extreme thunderstorms in Argentina

More than 150 scientists from North and South America, including Brazil and Argentina, as well as Europe are participating in a study aimed to improve the prediction of severe storms. As residents of the U.S. Midwest know, spring in the Great Plains can bring severe weather, including hail, damaging winds, torrential rains and deadly tornadoes with catastrophic impacts. Similarly, spring in the Pampas, a vast plains region that extends from the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Argentina to the coasts of Brazil and Uruguay, ushers in many of the same types of weather. But thunderstorms in the Southern Hemisphere are larger, have more lightning and may produce more frequent large hail and flooding than their Northern Hemisphere counterparts. Residents of the Pampas region know about the dangers of these storms, but the tempests are often difficult to predict. Now, an international team of scientists funded by the National Science Foundation will head to Argentina next month (spring in the Southern Hemisphere) as part of a field campaign to discover why these thunderstorms may be the most intense on Earth. The U.S. researchers are affiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Colorado State University, University of Washington, University of Utah and Penn State, as well as the Department of Energy and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

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