Characteristics of boreal winter cluster extreme events of low temperature during recent 35 years and its future projection under different RCP emission scenarios

  • Xueyuan KuangEmail author
  • Yaocun Zhang
  • Zunya Wang
  • Danqing Huang
  • Ying Huang
Original Paper


Cluster extreme event (CEE), which is characterized by large affected area and long duration of extreme weather, has been arousing the worldwide serious concerns due to its severe impact on society. The winter cluster extreme events of low temperature (LT_CEEs) in the northern hemisphere from 1979 to 2013 are identified with a simplified objective method based on ERA-Interim and JRA-25 daily minimum surface air temperature. The probability density function (PDF) distributions of most indices in the winter LT_CEEs derived from the two datasets are well consistent with each other, especially in the occurrence frequency, duration, and affected area. As expected, the downward trend of all indices in recent 35 years under global warming is congruously revealed from both reanalysis. Nevertheless, the various indices of the winter LT_CEEs after 1998 are generally stable accompanied with slight upward trend, which might be closely related to the speed slowdown of global warming but require further investigation. Similar analysis was carried out with the simulated results of BCC_CSM1.1 model under four scenarios of RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5. The occurrence frequency of the winter LT_CEEs under RCP2.6 remains stable after 2050, but significantly decreases under RCP4.5 and RCP6.0, and disappears under RCP8.5 scenario. Overall, the descent rate of the winter LT_CEEs accelerates with the emission rise.



The ERA-Interim dataset is downloaded from the website of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF); the JRA dataset is from Japan Meteorological Agency, and the BCC output is from National Climate Center of China. Thank all the data providers. We also thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions for improving our manuscript.

Funding information

This work is jointly supported by the National Key R&D Program of China under Grant Nos. 2016YFA0600504, 2017YFA0603803, and 2016YFA0600701 and the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grants Nos. 41775073 and 41575071.


  1. Alexander LV, Zhang X, Peterson TC, Caesar J, Gleason B, Klein Tank AMG, Haylock M, Collins D, Trewin B, Rahimzadeh F, Tagipour A, Rupa Kumar K, Revadekar J, Griffiths G, Vincent L, Stephenson DB, Burn J, Aguilar E, Brunet M, Taylor M, New M, Zhai P, Rusticucci M, Vazquez-Aguirre JL (2006) Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation. J Geophys Res 111:D05109. Google Scholar
  2. Christensen OB, Christensen JH (2004) Intensification of extreme European summer precipitation in a warmer climate. Glob Planet Chang 44:107–117. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cohen JL. Furtado JC, Barlow MA, Alexeev VA and Cherry JE (2012) Arctic warming, increasing snow cover and widespread boreal winter cooling. Environ.Res Lett. 7014007.
  4. Cohen J, Screen JA, Furtado JC, Barlow M, Whittleston D, Coumou D, Francis J, Dethloff K, Entekhabi D, Overland J, Jones J (2014) Recent Arctic amplification and extreme mid-latitude weather. Nat Geosci 7:627–637. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Coumou D, Rahmstorf S (2012) A decade of weather extremes. Nature Climate Change. Nature Publishing Group 2(7):1–6. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dee DP, Uppala SM, Simmons AJ, Berrisford P, Poli P, Kobayashi S, Andrae U, Balmaseda MA, Balsamo G, Bauer P, Bechtold P, Beljaars ACM, van de Berg L, Bidlot J, Bormann N, Delsol C, Dragani R, Fuentes M, Geer AJ, Haimberger L, Healy SB, Hersbach H, Hólm EV, Isaksen L, Kållberg P, Köhler M, Matricardi M, McNally AP, Monge-Sanz BM, Morcrette JJ, Park BK, Peubey C, de Rosnay P, Tavolato C, Thépaut JN, Vitart F (2011) The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Q J R Meteorol Soc 137(656):553–597. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dethloff K, Rinke A, Benkel A, Køltzow M, Sokolova E, Kumar Saha S, Handorf D, Dorn W, Rockel B, von Storch H, Haugen JE, Røed LP, Roeckner E, Christensen JH, Stendel M (2006) A dynamical link between the Arctic and the global climate system. Geophys Res Lett 33:L03703. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ding T, Qiang WH (2011) Geographical patterns and temporal variations of regional dry and wet heatwave events in China during 1960-2008. Adv Atmos Sci 28(2):322–337. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. England MH et al (2014) Recent intensification of wind-driven circulation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus. Nat Clim Chang 4:222–227. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Feng L, Li T, Yu W (2014) Cause of severe droughts in Southwest China during 1951-2010. Clim Dyn 43:2033–2042. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gong Z, Wang X, Cui D, Wang Y (2012) The identification and changing characteristics of regional low temperature extreme events. Journal of Applied Meterorological Science( In Chinese) 23(2):195–204Google Scholar
  12. Honda M, Inoue J, Yamane S (2009) Influence of low Arctic Sea-ice minima on anomalously cold Eurasian winters. Geophys Res Lett 36:L08707. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kosaka Y, Xie S-P (2013) Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling. Nature 501:403–407. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kuang X, Wang Z, Zhang Y, Sun C, Hou W (2014) Indentification and statistical characteristics of the cluster high temperature events during last fifty years. Chin J Geophys (In Chinese) 57(6):1782–1791Google Scholar
  15. Leckebusch GC, Ulbrich U (2004) On the relationship between cyclones and extreme windstorm events over Europe under climate change. Glob Planet Chang 44:181–193. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lim Y-K, Schubert SD (2011) The impact of ENSO and the Arctic oscillation on winter temperature extremes in the Southeast United States. Geophys Res Lett 38(15).
  17. Luber G, Mcgeehin M (2008) Climate change and extreme heat events. Am J Prev Med 35(5):429–435. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Min S-K, Cai W, Whetton P (2013) Influence of climate variability on seasonal extremes over Australia. J Geophys Res Atmos 118(2):643–654. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Onogi K et al (2007) The JRA-25 reanalysis. J Meteorol Soc Jpn 85:369–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Osborn TJ (2011) Winter 2009/2010 temperatures and a record-breaking North Atlantic oscillation index. Weather 66(1):16–19. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Palmer T (2014) Record-breaking winters and global climate change. Science 344:803–804. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Petoukhov V, Semenov VA (2010) A link between reduced Barents-Kara Sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents. J Geophys Res 115:D21111. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pinto JG, Ulbrich S, Parodi A, Rudari R, Boni G, Ulbrich U (2013) Identification and ranking of extraordinary rainfall events over Northwest Italy: the role of Atlantic moisture. J Geophys Res Atmos 118(5):2085–2097. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Planton S, Déqué M, Chauvin F, Terray L (2008) Expected impacts of climate change on extreme climate events. Compt Rendus Geosci 340:564–574. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Qian WH, Shang XL, Zhu YF (2011) Ranking regional drought events in China for 1960-2009. Adv Atmos Sci 28(2):310–321. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rahmstorf S, Coumou D (2011) Increase of extreme events in a warming world. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108(44):17905–17909. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rebetez M, Dupont O, Giroud M (2008) An analysis of the July 2006 heatwave extent in Europe compared to the record year of 2003. Theor Appl Climatol 95(1–2):1–7. Google Scholar
  28. Redner S, Petersen M (2006) Role of global warming on the statistics of record-breaking temperatures. Phys Rev E 74(6):061114. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ren F, Cui D, Gong Z, Wang Y, Zou X, Li Y, Wang S, Wang X (2012) An objective identification technique for regional extreme events. J Clim 25(20):7015–7027. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schar C, Vidale PL, Luthi D, Frei C (2004) The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heatwaves. Nature 427:3926–3928. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Screen JA, Simmonds I (2014) Amplified mid-latitude planetary waves favour particular regional weather extremes. Nat Clim Chang 4(June):704–709. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sun C, Yang S (2012) Persistent severe drought in southern China during winter–spring 2011: large-scale circulation patterns and possible impacting factors. J Geophys Res 117(D10):D10112. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wallace JM, Held IM, Thompson DWJ, Trenberth KE, Walsh JE (2014) Global warming and winter weather. Science 343:729–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wang C, Liu H, Lee S-K (2010) The record-breaking cold temperatures during the winter of 2009/2010 in the northern hemisphere. Atmos Sci Lett 11(3):161–168. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wen M, Yang S, Kumar A, Zhang P (2009) An analysis of the large-scale climate anomalies associated with the snowstorms affecting China in January 2008. Mon Weather Rev 137(3):1111–1131. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wergen G, Krug J (2010) Record-breaking temperatures reveal a warming climate. Europhys Lett 92(3):30008.
  37. Xin XG, Wu TW, Zhang J (2013) Introduction of CMIP5 experiments carried out with the climate system models of Beijing Climate Center. Adv Clim Chang Res 4:41–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yang P, Hou W, Feng G (2010) A study of the characteristics of the cluster extreme events in China. Climatic and Environmental Research (In Chinese) 15(4):365–370Google Scholar
  39. Zhang ZJ, Qian WH (2011) Identifying regional prolonged low temperature events in China. Adv Atmos Sci 28(2):338–351. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xueyuan Kuang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yaocun Zhang
    • 1
  • Zunya Wang
    • 2
  • Danqing Huang
    • 1
  • Ying Huang
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Atmospheric SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.National Climate Center of ChinaBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations