Floridian heatwaves and extreme precipitation: future climate projections
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Observational analysis and climate modeling efforts concur that the frequency, intensity, and duration of heatwaves will increase as the Earth’s mean climate shifts towards warmer temperatures. While the impacts and mechanisms of heatwaves have been well explored, extreme temperatures over Florida are generally understudied. This paper sheds light on Floridian heatwaves by exploring 13 years of daily data from surface observations and high-resolution WRF climate simulations for the same timeframe. The characteristics of the current and future heatwaves under the RCP8.5 high emissions scenario for 2070–2099 were then investigated. Results show a tripling in the frequency, and greater than a sixfold increase in the mean duration of heatwaves over Florida when the current standard of heatwaves was used. The intensity of heatwaves also increased by 4–6 °C due to the combined effects of rising mean temperatures and a 1–2 °C increase attributed to the flattening of the temperature distribution. Since Florida’s atmospheric boundary layer is rich in moisture and heatwaves could further increase the moisture content in the lower troposphere, the relationship between heatwaves and extreme precipitation was also explored in both the current and future climate. As expected, rainfall during a heatwave event was anomalously low, but it quickly recovered to normal within 3 days after the passage of a heatwave. Finally, the late 21st-century climate could witness a slight decrease in the mean precipitation over Florida, accompanied by heavier heatwave-associated extreme precipitation events over central and southern Florida.
KeywordsClimate projection Extreme precipitation Florida Heatwaves WRF model
The authors would like to thank Roy M. Rasmussen and others at NCAR who made the WRF simulations available to use, and Kyoko Ikeda (NCAR) in particular for her generous help by providing the necessary data, and information essential to analyzing the data files. This manuscript also benefitted from the constructive criticism and feedback from two reviewers. A. Raghavendra acknowledges funding support from the National Science Foundation (NSF #AGS-1535426). A. Dai acknowledges the funding support from the NSF (#AGS-1353740), U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science (Award #DE-SC0012602), and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Award #NA15OAR4310086).
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