Model simulation and projection of European heat waves in present-day and future climates

Ngar Cheung Lau, Mary Jo Nath

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119 Scopus citations


The synoptic behavior of present-day heat waves (HW) over Europe is studied using the GFDL highresolution atmospheric model (HiRAM) with 50-km grid spacing. Three regions of enhanced and coherent temperature variability are identified over western Russia, eastern Europe, and western Europe. The simulated HW characteristics are compared with those derived from Climate Forecast System Reanalysis products. Composite charts for outstanding HW episodes resemble well-known recurrent circulation types. The HW region is overlain by a prominent upper-level anticyclone, which blocks the passage of synoptic-scale transients. The altered eddy vorticity transports in turn reinforce the anticyclone. The anticyclone is part of a planetary-scale wave train. The successive downstream development of this wave train is indicative of Rossby wave dispersion. Additional runs of HiRAMare conducted for the "time slices" of 2026-35 and 2086-95 in the climate scenario corresponding to representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5). By the end of the twenty-first century, the average duration and frequency ofHWin the three European sites are projected to increase by a factor of 1.4-2.0 and 2.2-4.5, respectively, fromthe present-day values. These changes can be reproduced by adding the mean shift between the present and future climatological temperatures to the daily fluctuations in the present-day simulation. The output from a continuous integration of a coupled general circulation model through the 1901-2100 period indicates a monotonic increase in severity, duration, and HW days during the twenty-first century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3713-3730
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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