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Effect of vorticity pollution by motor vehicles on tornadoes


THE recorded annual incidence of tornadoes in the United States has increased steadily and dramatically in the past four decades, by at least a factor of six1. We have examined the thesis that the development of widespread motor vehicle traffic in the United States over the last 40 yr has perturbed atmospheric vorticity in such a way as to exacerbate the tornado incidence, principally by the introduction of cyclonic vorticity. Surprisingly, both the analysis and the evidence support the thesis.

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  1. US Dept of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA's Climatological Data, National Summary, 24, no. 13 (1973).

  2. Delury, G. E. (ed.), World Almanac and Book of Facts (Doubleday, New York, 1973).

  3. US Dept of Commerce, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, Data tapes, National Severe Storms Forecast Center, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

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ISAACS, J., STORK, J., GOLDSTEIN, D. et al. Effect of vorticity pollution by motor vehicles on tornadoes. Nature 253, 254–255 (1975).

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