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Explaining Changes in Extreme U.S. Climate Events. Gerald A. Meehl Julie Arblaster, Claudia Tebaldi. “Explaining changes” implies attributing those changes to some cause There are few attribution studies to date for changes of extremes

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Explaining changes in extreme u s climate events

Explaining Changes in Extreme U.S. Climate Events

Gerald A. Meehl

Julie Arblaster, Claudia Tebaldi


“Explaining changes” implies attributing those changes to some cause

There are few attribution studies to date for changes of extremes

Typically the candidates are natural factors (inherent variability, volcanoes and solar), or anthropogenic (GHGs, aerosols, ozone)


Natural forcings do not fully explain observed late 20 to some causeth century warming(uncertainty in climate model response is reduced by demonstrating that 20th century temperatures are directly related to the relevant forcings)

  • Climate models with only “natural” forcings (volcanic and solar) do not reproduce observed late 20th century warming

  • When increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols are included, models are able reproduce observed late 20th century warming

Meehl, G.A., W.M. Washington, C. Ammann, J.M. Arblaster, T.M.L. Wigley, and C. Tebaldi, 2004: Combinations of natural and anthropogenic forcings and 20th century climate. J. Climate, 17, 3721-3727.


For the U.S.: to some cause


Changes in frost days in the late 20 to some causeth century show biggest decreases over the western and southwestern U.S. in observations and the model


Future changes in frost days from the climate model show greatest decreases in the western and southwestern U.S., similar to late 20th century


Large-scale changes in atmospheric circulation affect regional pattern of changes in future frost days

Anomalous ridge of high pressure brings warmer air to northwestern U.S.causing relatively less frost days compared to the northeastern U.S. where an anomalous trough brings colder air from north

H

cold

L

warm

(Meehl, Tebaldi and Nychka, 2004: Changes in frost days in simulations of twentyfirst century climate, Climate Dynamics, 23, 495--511)


Climate models can be used to provide information on changes in extreme events such as heat waves

Heat wave severity defined as the mean annual 3-day warmest nighttime minima event

Model compares favorably with present-day heat wave severity

In a future warmer climate, heat waves become more severe in southern and western North America, and in the western European and Mediterranean region

Meehl, G.A., and C. Tebaldi, 2004: More intense, more frequent and longer lasting heat waves in the 21st century. Science, 305, 994--997.

Observed

Model

Future


The Chicago (1995) and Paris (2003) heat waves show large positive 500 hPa height anomalies

For present-day heat waves near Chicago and Paris, the climate model also simulates large positive 500 hpa height anomalies


Atmospheric circulation in heat waves becomes more intense for future climate (2080-2099) compared to present-day (1961-1990)

Future change in base state (mean) atmospheric circulation due to increased CO2 is conducive to more intense heat waves


Interpreting the Paris 2003 heat wave for future climate (2080-2099) compared to present-day (1961-1990)

Estimated likelihood of the risk (probability) of exceedance of a 1.6°C summer season mean threshold that was exceeded in 2003, but in no other year since 1851 (relative to the 1961-1990 mean) (Stott et al, 2004)

Natural forcings

Natural plus anthropogenic


Atmospheric model run with observed 20 for future climate (2080-2099) compared to present-day (1961-1990)th century SSTs (SSTNAT) and then also with anthropogenic forcings (GSOT) suggests anthropogenic forcings necessary to get more of the observed pattern (Kiktev et al., 2003)


Changes in warmest night of the year, 1980-99 minus 1950-69 (4 member model ensembles from HadCM3)

Increase in warmest nights only occurs in presence of anthropogenic forcing

(Christidis et al., 2005)


Trend in frost days for the U.S. (1975-99): (4 member model ensembles from HadCM3)

Observed: -10.9

Models: -5.2

Trend in growing season length for U.S. (1975-99):

Observed: +18.0

Models: +5.6


  • Trends in warm nights for the U.S. (1975-99): (4 member model ensembles from HadCM3)

  • Observed: +2.9

  • Models: +4.2

  • Warm nights, defined as the percentage of times in the year when minimum temperature is above the 90th percentile of the climatological distribution for that calendar day

  • Trends in precipitation>95% for the U.S. (1975-99):

  • Observed: +2.1

  • Models: +0.5

  • Fraction of total precipitation due to events exceeding the 95th percentile of the climatological distribution for wet day amounts


4 member ensembles with PCM with natural (volcanoes and solar) and anthropogenic (GHGs, ozone, aerosols)


heat wave intensity index (Karl et al., 1997) solar) and anthropogenic (GHGs, ozone, aerosols)


(Tebaldi , C., J.M. Arblaster, K. Hayhoe, and G.A. Meehl, 2006: Going to the

extremes: An intercomparison of model-simulated historical and future changes in extreme events. Clim. Change, 79, doi 10.1007/s10584-006-9051-4.)


Tebaldi , C., J.M. Arblaster, K. Hayhoe, and G.A. Meehl, 2006: Going to the extremes: An intercomparison of model-simulated historical and future changes in extreme events. Clim. Change, 79}, doi 10.1007/s10584-006-9051-4.

.


Averaged just over the U.S.: 2006: Going to the extremes: An intercomparison of model-simulated historical and future changes in extreme events. Clim. Change,


Summary
Summary 2006: Going to the extremes: An intercomparison of model-simulated historical and future changes in extreme events. Clim. Change,

  • There have been few attribution studies done on extremes

  • More consistent results for temperature extremes (decreases in frost days, increases in warm nights and heat wave intensity) attributed to anthropogenic forcing for the U.S. in the latter part of the 20th century

  • Some indications that observed increases in precipitation extremes can be attributed to anthropogenic forcing, but more difficult due to spatial and temporal noise in extremes

  • In a future warmer climate, present trends in extremes are projected to continue due to increasing anthropogenic forcing



Changes in frost days in the late 20 extremes over the U.S.? th century show biggest decreases over the western and southwestern U.S. in observations and the model

Observed trends from Easterling (2002)


  • Warm nights extremes over the U.S.? , defined as the percentage of times in the year when minimum temperature is above the 90th percentile of the climatological distribution for that calendar day


  • Conclusions extremes over the U.S.?

  • Very few extremes attribution studies done to date

  • Even fewer focused on the U.S.


Climate model shows an increase in the average number of heat waves per year in the future (top) and an increase in heat wave duration (bottom)

(model grid points near Chicago and Paris)


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