Environmental Policy

UI Study on Tornado Intensity Garners National Attention


A University of Iowa study on the intensity of tornadoes and how it correlates to burning biomass has garnered national attention. Scott Spak, assistant professor in Urban & Regional Planning and Civil & Environmental Engineering, and researcher for the Environmental Policy Program at the Public Policy Center, co-authored the study.  

The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, examined the effects of smoke resulting from agricultural land-clearing fires in Central America when encountering tornado conditions in the United States after drifting across the Gulf of Mexico.  Researchers found that, while environmental conditions were the main factor in tornado formation, the smoke particles intensify those conditions and increase the likelihood of those storms becoming supercells.

Co-lead authors on the study are Gregory Carmichael, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering, and Pablo Saide, Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER) postdoctoral fellow.  To read more about the study in national news, click on the following links:

American Geophysical Union

Iowa Now

NBC News