Climate Dynamics

, Volume 46, Issue 9–10, pp 3163–3180 | Cite as

Projected changes to high temperature events for Canada based on a regional climate model ensemble

  • Dae Il Jeong
  • Laxmi Sushama
  • Gulilat Tefera Diro
  • M. Naveed Khaliq
  • Hugo Beltrami
  • Daniel Caya


Extreme hot spells can have significant impacts on human society and ecosystems, and therefore it is important to assess how these extreme events will evolve in a changing climate. In this study, the impact of climate change on hot days, hot spells, and heat waves, over 10 climatic regions covering Canada, based on 11 regional climate model (RCM) simulations from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program for the June to August summer period is presented. These simulations were produced with six RCMs driven by four Atmosphere–Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCM), for the A2 emission scenario, for the current 1970–1999 and future 2040–2069 periods. Two types of hot days, namely HD-1 and HD-2, defined respectively as days with only daily maximum temperature (Tmax) and both Tmax and daily minimum temperature (Tmin) exceeding their respective thresholds (i.e., period-of-record 90th percentile of Tmax and Tmin values), are considered in the study. Analogous to these hot days, two types of hot spells, namely HS-1 and HS-2, are identified as spells of consecutive HD-1 and HD-2 type hot days. In the study, heat waves are defined as periods of three or more consecutive days, with Tmax above 32 °C threshold. Results suggest future increases in the number of both types of hot days and hot spell events for the 10 climatic regions considered. However, the projected changes show high spatial variability and are highly dependent on the RCM and driving AOGCM combination. Extreme hot spell events such as HS-2 type hot spells of longer duration are expected to experience relatively larger increases compared to hot spells of moderate duration, implying considerable heat related environmental and health risks. Regionally, the Great Lakes, West Coast, Northern Plains, and Maritimes regions are found to be more affected due to increases in the frequency and severity of hot spells and/or heat wave characteristics, requiring more in depth studies for these regions to facilitate appropriate adaptation measures.


Climate change Heat waves Hot days Hot spells Regional climate model 



We wish to thank the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) for providing the data used in this paper. NARCCAP is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development (EPA). The present research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Ouranos Consortium and HydroQuebec.


  1. Beniston M, Stephenson DB, Christensen OB, Ferro CA, Frei C, Goyette S, Halsnaes K, Holt T, Jylhä K, Koffi B, Palutikof J, Schöll R, Semmler T, Woth K (2007) Future extreme events in European climate: an exploration of regional climate model projections. Clim Change 81(1):71–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Caya D, Laprise R (1999) A semi-implicit semi-Lagrangian regional climate model: the Canadian RCM. Mon Weather Rev 127:341–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clark RT, Brown SJ, Murphy JM (2006) Modeling Northern Hemisphere summer heat extreme changes and their uncertainties using a physics ensemble of climate sensitivity experiments. J Clim 19(17):4418–4435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Collins WD et al (2006) The community climate system model version 3 (CCSM3). J Clim 19:2122–2143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Di Luca A, de Elia R, Laprise R (2012) Potential for added value in precipitation simulated by high-resolution nested regional climate models and observations. Clim Dyn 38:1229–1247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Di Luca A, de Elίa R, Laprise R (2013) Potential for added value in temperature simulated by high-resolution nested RCMs in present climate and in the climate signal. Clim Dyn 40:443–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Diffenbaugh NS, Pal JS, Trapp RJ, Giorgi F (2005) Fine-scale processes regulate the response of extreme events to global climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102(44):15774–15778CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Diro GT, Sushama L, Martynov A, Jeong DI, Verseghy D, Winger K (2014) Land-atmosphere coupling over North America in CRCM5. J Geophys Res Atmos 119:11955–11972. doi: 10.1002/2014JD021677 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Environment Canada (1996) Climate and weather glossary of terms. Atmospheric, Climate, and Water Systems Branch.
  10. Environment Canada (2001) The top ten Canadian Weather stories for 2001.
  11. Eum H-I, Gachon P, Laprise R (2013) Developing a likely climate scenario from multiple regional climate model simulations with an optimal weighting factor. Clim Dyn. doi: 10.1007/s00382-013-2021-4 Google Scholar
  12. Fischer EM, Schär C (2010) Consistent geographical patterns of changes in high-impact European heatwaves. Nat Geosci 3(6):398–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fischer EM, Seneviratne SI, Lüthi D, Schär C (2007) Contribution of land-atmosphere coupling to recent European summer heat waves. Geophys Res Lett 34(6):L06707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Flato GM (2005) The third generation coupled global climate model (CGCM3) Available online from
  15. GFDL GAMDT (The GFDL Global Model Development Team) (2004) The new GFDL global atmospheric and land model AM2-LM2: evaluation with prescribed SST simulations. J Clim 17:4641–4673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Giorgi F, Bi X, Pal J (2004) Mean, interannual variability and trends in a regional climate change experiment over Europe. II: climate change scenarios (2071–2100). Clim Dyn 23(7–8):839–858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gordon C et al (2000) The simulation of SST, sea ice extents and ocean heat transports in a version of the Hadley Centre coupled model without flux adjustments. Clim Dyn 16:147–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grell GA, Devenyi DA (2002) generalized approach to parameterizing convection combining ensemble and data assimilation techniques. Geophys Res Lett 29:1693–1697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grell GA, Dudhia J, Stauffer DR (1993) A description of the fifth-generation Penn State/NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5). NCAR Tech. Note NCAR/TN-398 + 1A, pp 107Google Scholar
  20. Hansen H, Satoa M, Ruedyb R (2012) Perception of climate change. PNAS 109(37):e2415–e2423. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1205276109 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hopkinson RF, McKenney DW, Milewska EJ, Hutchinson MF, Papadopol P, Vincent LA (2011) Impact of aligning climatological day on gridding daily maximum-minimum temperature and precipitation over Canada. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 50(8):1654–1665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hosking JRM, Wallis JR (1997) Regional frequency analysis: an approach based on L-moments. Cambridge Univ. Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hosking JRM, Wallis JR, Wood EF (1985) Estimation of the generalized extreme-value distribution by the method of probability weighted moments. Technometrics 273:251–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001) In: Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, van der Linder PJ, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CA (eds) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 881Google Scholar
  25. Jeong DI, Sushama L, Khaliq MN (2014) The role of temperature in drought projections over North America. Clim Chang 127:289–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jones RG, Hassell DC, Hudson D, Wilson SS, Jenkins GJ, Mitchell JFB (2003) Workbook on generating high resolution climate change scenarios using PRECIS. UNDP, pp. 32Google Scholar
  27. Juang H-M, Hong S-Y, Kanamitsu M (1997) The NCEP regional spectral model: an update. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 78:2125–2143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Katsoulis BD, Hatzianastassiou N (2005) Analysis of hot spell characteristics in the Greek region. Clim Res 28:229–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Khaliq MN, Ouarda TBMJ, St-Hilaire A, Gachon P (2007) Bayesian change-point analysis of heat spell occurrences in Montreal, Canada. Int J Climatol 27(6):805–818CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kunkel KE, Liang XZ, Zhu J (2010) Regional climate model projections and uncertainties of US summer heat waves. J Clim 23(16):4447–4458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lau NC, Nath MJ (2012) A model study of heat waves over North America: meteorological aspects and projections for the twenty-first century. J Clim 25(14):4761–4784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lemmen DS, Warren FJ, Lacroix J, Bush E (eds) (2008) From impacts to adaptation: Canada in a changing climate 2007. Government of Canada, Ottawa, p 448Google Scholar
  33. Mailhot A, Beauregard I, Talbot G, Caya D, Biner S (2011) Future changes in intense precipitation over Canada assessed from multi-model NARCCAP ensemble simulations. Int J Climatol. doi: 10.1002/joc.2343 Google Scholar
  34. Mearns LO, Arritt R, Biner S, Bukovsky MS, McGinnis S, Sain S, Caya D, Correia J Jr, Flory D, Gutowski W, Takle ES, Jones R, Leung R, Moufouma-Okia W, McDaniel L, Nunes AMB, Qian Y, Roads J, Sloan L, Snyder M (2012) The North American regional climate change assessment program: overview of phase I results. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 93(9):1337–1362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Meehl GA, Tebaldi C (2004) More intense, more frequent, and longer lasting heat waves in the 21st century. Science 305(5686):994–997CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mladjic B, Sushama L, Khaliq MN, Laprise R, Caya D, Roy R (2011) Canadian RCM projected changes to extreme precipitation characteristics over Canada. J Clim 24(10):2565–2584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Naqvi SMK, Ezeji T (2012) Environmental stress and amelioration in livestock production. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  38. National Climatic Data Center (2001) Billion dollar US weather disasters 1980–2001.
  39. Pal JS et al (2007) Regional climate modeling for the developing world: the ICTP RegCM3 and RegCNET. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 88:1395–1409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Patz JA, Campbell-Lendrum D, Holloway T, Foley JA (2005) Impact of regional climate change on human health. Nature 438(7066):310–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Plummer DA et al (2006) Climate and climate change over North America as simulated by the Canadian RCM. J Clim 19(13):3112–3132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pope VD et al (2000) The impact of new physical parameterizations in the Hadley Centre climate model: HadAM3. Clim Dyn 16:123–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schär C, Vidale PL, Lüthi D, Frei C, Häberli C, Liniger MA, Appenzeller C (2004) The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heatwaves. Nature 427(6972):332–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sillmann J, Kharin VV, Zwiers FW, Zhang X, Bronaugh D (2013) Climate extremes indices in the CMIP5 multimodel ensemble: part 2. Future climate projections. J Geophys Res Atmos 118:2473–2493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Smoyer-Tomic KE, Kuhn R, Hudson A (2003) Heat wave hazards: an overview of heat wave impacts in Canada. Nat Hazards 28(2–3):465–486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sushama L, Laprise R, Caya D, Frigon A, Slivitzky M (2006) Canadian RCM projected climate change signal and its sensitivity to model errors. Int J Climatol 26:2141–2159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Vautard R, Gobiet A, Jacob D, Belda M, Colette A, Déqué M, Fernández J, García-Díez M, Goergen K, Güttler I, Halenka T, Karacostas T, Katragkou E, Keuler K, Kotlarski S, Mayer S, van Meijgaard E, Nikulin G, Patarčić M, Scinocca J, Sobolowski S, Suklitsch M, Teichmann C, Warrach-Sagi K, Wulfmeyer V, Yiou P (2013) The simulation of European heat waves from an ensemble of regional climate models within the EURO-CORDEX project. Clim Dyn. doi: 10.1007/s00382-013-1714-z Google Scholar
  48. Wehner M (2013) Very extreme seasonal precipitation in the NARCCAP ensemble: model performance and projections. Clim Dyn 40:59–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zhang J, Wu L (2011) Land-atmosphere coupling amplifies hot extremes over China. Chin Sci Bull 56(31):3328–3332CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dae Il Jeong
    • 1
  • Laxmi Sushama
    • 1
  • Gulilat Tefera Diro
    • 1
  • M. Naveed Khaliq
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hugo Beltrami
    • 1
    • 3
  • Daniel Caya
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre ESCER (Étude et Simulation du Climat à l’Échelle Régionale)Université du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.National Research CouncilOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesSt. Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada
  4. 4.Ouranos ConsortiumMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations