On the role of increased CO2 concentrations in enhancing the temporal clustering of heavy precipitation events across Europe

Zhiqi Yang, Gabriele Villarini

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This study examines the response of the clustering behavior in heavy precipitation events across Europe to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We focus on four large-scale climate modes [Arctic Oscillation (AO), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), East Atlantic (EA) pattern, and Scandinavia pattern (SCAND)] that have been found to play a significant role in controlling the occurrence of these events. We use a peak over threshold (POT) method to define daily heavy precipitation events and Cox regression as the modeling framework. We consider three experiments from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5): (1) pre-industrial control run experiments (PI-control); (2) a 1%/year increase in CO2 from the CO2 concentration in PI control to quadrupling (1pctCO2); and (3) an instantaneous quadrupling of CO2, then holding it fixed (abrupt4 × CO2). We measure the effects of CO2 by examining whether the Cox regression coefficients in the CO2 experiments are significantly different from those in the PI control. We find that (1) the increases in CO2 are unlikely to lead to changes in the spatial patterns of relationships between climate modes and heavy precipitation; (2) the increases in CO2 are likely to lead to a strengthening of the relationship between the AO/SCAND and the occurrence of heavy precipitation events, while increases in CO2 have weaker effects on the role of NAO and EA; (3) the response to an abrupt increase in CO2 is generally stronger compared to a more gradual one; (4) the responses of the integrated vapor transport and 500-mb geopotential height to increasing CO2 provide a physical mechanism to explain the enhanced relationship between climate modes and clustering of heavy precipitation events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1455-1472
Number of pages18
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


  • CO concentrations
  • Heavy precipitation
  • Temporal clustering


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