Climatic Change

, Volume 86, Issue 1–2, pp 83–104 | Cite as

Indices for extreme events in projections of anthropogenic climate change

Open Access


Indices for temperature and precipitation extremes are calculated on the basis of the global climate model ECHAM5/MPI-OM simulations of the twentieth century and SRES A1B and B1 emission scenarios for the twenty-first century. For model evaluation, the simulated indices representing the present climate were compared with indices based on observational data. This comparison shows that the model is able to realistically capture the observed climatological large-scale patterns of temperature and precipitation indices, although the quality of the simulations depends on the index and region under consideration. In the climate projections for the twenty-first century, all considered temperature-based indices, minimum Tmin, maximum Tmax, and the frequency of tropical nights, show a significant increase worldwide. Similarly, extreme precipitation, as represented by the maximum 5-day precipitation and the 95th percentile of precipitation, is projected to increase significantly in most regions of the world, especially in those that are relatively wet already under present climate conditions. Analogously, dry spells increase particularly in those regions that are characterized by dry conditions in present-day climate. Future changes in the indices exhibit distinct regional and seasonal patterns as identified exemplarily in three European regions.


  1. Alexander LV, Zhang X, Peterson TC, Caesar J, Gleason B, Klein Tank A, Haylock M, Collins D, Terwin B, Rahimzadeh F, Tagipour A, Ambenje P, Rupa Kumar K, Revadekar J, Griffiths G, Vincent L, Stephenson D, Burn J, Aguilar E, Brunet M, Taylor M, New M, Zhai P, Rusticucci M, Vazquez-Aquirre JL (2006) Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation. J Geophys Res 111:D05109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bengtsson L, Hodges KI, Roeckner E (2006) Storm tracks and climate change. J Climate 19:3518–3543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cassou C, Terray L, Phillips AS (2005) Tropical Atlantic influence on European heat waves. J Climate 18:2805–2811CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Christensen JH, Christensen OB (2003) Climate modelling: severe summertime flooding in Europe. Nature 421:805–806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cubasch U, Meehl UA, Boer GJ, Stouffer RJ, Dix M, Noda A, Senior CA, Raper S, Yap, KS (2001) Projections of future climate change. In: Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, van der Linden P, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CI (eds) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of working group I to the third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Cambridge University Press, p 881Google Scholar
  6. Easterling DR, Horton B, Jones PJ, Peterson TC, Karl TR, Parker DE, Salinger MJ, Razuvayev V, Plummer N, Jamason P, Folland CK (1997) Maximum and minimum trends for the globe. Science 277:364–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Easterling DR, Meehl GA, Parmesan C, Changnon SA, Karl TR, Mearns LO (2000a) Climate extremes: observations, modeling, and impacts. Science 289:2068–2074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Easterling DR, Evans JL, Groisman PY, Karl TR, Kunkel KE, Ambenje P (2000b) Observed variability and trends in extreme climate events: a brief review. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 81:417–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Folland CK, Miller C, Bader D, Crowe M, Jones P, Plummer N, Richman M, Parker DE, Rogers J, Scholefield P (1999) Workshop on indices and indicators for climate extremes, Asheville, NC, USA, 3–6 June 1997. Breakout group C: temperature indices for climate extremes. Clim Change 42:31–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Frich P, Alexander LV, Della-Marta P, Gleason B, Haylock M, Klein Tank AM, Peterson T (2002) Observed coherent changes in climate extremes during the second half of the twentieth century. Clim Res 19:193–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Giorgi F, Whetton PH, Jones RG, Christensen JH, Mearns LO, Hewitson B, von Storch H, Francisco R, Jack C (2001) Emerging patterns of simulated regional climatic changes for the 21st century due to anthropogenic forcings. Geophys Res Lett 28:3317–3320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hadley Centre Observational Datasets (2006) Met Office, Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research, Devon, UK. Cited 11 January 2006
  13. Hagemann S, Arpe K, Roeckner E (2006) Evaluation of the hydrological cycle in the ECHAM5 model. J Climate 19:3810–3827CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Haylock MR, Goodness CM (2004) Inter-annual variability of European extreme winter rainfall and links with mean large-scale circulation. Int J Climatol 24:759–776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, van der Linden P, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CI (eds) (2001) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of working group I to the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, p 881Google Scholar
  16. Jungclaus, JH, Keenlyside N, Botzet M, Haak H, Luo J-J, Latif M, Marotzke J, Mikolajewicz U, Roeckner E (2006) Ocean circulation and tropical variability in the coupled model ECHAM5/MPI-OM. J Climate 19:3952–3972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Karl TR, Jones PD, Knight RW, Kukla G, Plummer N, Razuvayev V, Gallo KP, Lindseay J, Charlson RJ, Peterson TC (1993) A new perspective on recent global warming: Asymmetric trends of daily maximum and minimum temperature. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 74(6):1007–1023CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Karl TR, Nicholls N, Ghazi A (1999) CLIVAR/GCOS/WMO Workshop on indices and indicators for climate extremes. Workshop summary. Clim Change 42:3–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kiktev D, Sexton DMH, Alexander L, Folland CK (2003) Comparison of modeled and observed trends in indices of daily climate extremes. J Climate 16:3560–3571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klein Tank AM (2004) Changing temperature and precipitation extremes in Europe’s climate of the 20th Century. Dissertation, University Utrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  21. Klein Tank AM, Koennen GP (2003) Trends in indices of daily temperature and precipitation extremes in Europe, 1946–99. J Climate 16:3665–3680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Marsland SJ, Haak H, Jungclaus JH, Latif M, Roeske F (2003) The Max Planck Institute global ocean/sea ice model with orthogonal curvilinear coordinates. Ocean Model 5:91–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Meehl GA, Tebaldi C (2004) More intense, more frequent, and longer lasting heat waves in the 21st century. Science 305:994–997CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Meehl GA, Zwiers F, Evans J, Knutson T, Mearns L, Whetton P (2000) Trends in extreme weather and climate events: issues related to modeling extremes in projections of future climate change. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 81:427–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nakicenovic N, Alcamo J, Davis G, de Vries B, Fenhann J, Gaffin S, Gregory K, Gruebler A, Jung TY, Kram T, La Rovere EL, Michaelis L, Mori S, Morita T, Pepper W, Pitcher H, Price L, Riahi K, Roehrl A, Rogner HH, Sankovski A, Schlesinger M, Shukla P, Smith S, Swart R, van Rooijen S, Victor N, Dadi Z (2000) Special report on emission scenarios: a special report of working group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, p 599Google Scholar
  26. Nicholls N, Murray W (1999) Workshop on indices and indicators for climate extremes, Asheville, NC, USA, 3–6 June 1997. Breakout group B: precipitation. Clim Change 42:23–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Parmesan C, Root TL, Willig MR (2000) Impacts of extreme weather and climate on terrestrial biota. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 81:443–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peterson TC (2005) Climate change indices. WMO Bull 54(2):83–86Google Scholar
  29. Roeckner E, Baeuml G, Bonventura L, Brokopf R, Esch M, Giorgetta M, Hagemann S, Kirchner I, Kornblueh L, Manzini E, Rhodin A, Schlese U, Schulzweida U, Tompkins A (2003) The atmospheric general circulation model ECHAM5. Part 1: Model description. Report 349. Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  30. Roeckner E, Stier P, Feichter J, Kloster S, Esch M, Fischer-Bruns I (2006a) Impact of carbonaceous aerosol emissions on regional climate change. Clim Dyn 27:553–571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Roeckner E, Brokopf R, Esch M, Giorgetta M, Hagemann S, Kornblueh L, Manzini E, Schlese U, Schulzweida U (2006b) Sensitivity of simulated climate to horizontal and vertical resolution in the ECHAM5 atmosphere model. J Climate 19:3771–3791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tebaldi C, Hayhoe K, Arblaster JM, Meehl GA (2006) Going to extremes, an intercomparison of model-simulated historical and future changes in extreme events. Clim Change 79:185–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zhang X, Hegerl G, Zwiers FW, Kenyon J (2005) Avoiding inhomogeneity in percentile-based indices of temperature extremes. J Climate 18:1641–1651CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for MeteorologyHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations