Climatic Change

, Volume 81, Supplement 1, pp 71–95 | Cite as

Future extreme events in European climate: an exploration of regional climate model projections

  • Martin Beniston
  • David B. Stephenson
  • Ole B. Christensen
  • Christopher A. T. Ferro
  • Christoph Frei
  • Stéphane Goyette
  • Kirsten Halsnaes
  • Tom Holt
  • Kirsti Jylhä
  • Brigitte Koffi
  • Jean Palutikof
  • Regina Schöll
  • Tido Semmler
  • Katja Woth
Article

Abstract

This paper presents an overview of changes in the extreme events that are most likely to affect Europe in forthcoming decades. A variety of diagnostic methods are used to determine how heat waves, heavy precipitation, drought, wind storms, and storm surges change between present (1961–90) and future (2071–2100) climate on the basis of regional climate model simulations produced by the PRUDENCE project. A summary of the main results follows. Heat waves – Regional surface warming causes the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves to increase over Europe. By the end of the twenty first century, countries in central Europe will experience the same number of hot days as are currently experienced in southern Europe. The intensity of extreme temperatures increases more rapidly than the intensity of more moderate temperatures over the continental interior due to increases in temperature variability. Precipitation – Heavy winter precipitation increases in central and northern Europe and decreases in the south; heavy summer precipitation increases in north-eastern Europe and decreases in the south. Mediterranean droughts start earlier in the year and last longer. Winter storms – Extreme wind speeds increase between 45°N and 55°N, except over and south of the Alps, and become more north-westerly than cuurently. These changes are associated with reductions in mean sea-level pressure, leading to more North Sea storms and a corresponding increase in storm surges along coastal regions of Holland, Germany and Denmark, in particular. These results are found to depend to different degrees on model formulation. While the responses of heat waves are robust to model formulation, the magnitudes of changes in precipitation and wind speed are sensitive to the choice of regional model, and the detailed patterns of these changes are sensitive to the choice of the driving global model. In the case of precipitation, variation between models can exceed both internal variability and variability between different emissions scenarios.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aspelien T, Weisse R (2005) Assimilation of sea level heights into a regional ocean model for the north sea. Submitted to Ocean Dynamics doi: 10.1007/s10236-005-0041-2 (in press)
  2. Beniston M (2003) Climatic change in mountain regions: a review of possible impacts. Clim Change 59:5–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beniston M (2004) The 2003 heat wave in Europe: a shape of things to come? Geophys Res Lett 31:L02202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beniston M, Jungo P (2002) Shifts in the distributions of pressure, temperature and moisture in the alpine region in response to the behavior of the North Atlantic oscillation. Theor Appl Climatol 71:29–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beniston M, Stephenson DB (2004) Extreme climatic events and their evolution under changing climatic conditions. Glob Planet Change 44:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Casulli V, Cattani E (1994) Stability, accuracy and efficiency of a semi-implicit method for three-dimensional shallow water flow. Comput Math Appl 27:99–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chang EKM, Fu YF (2002) Interdecadal variations in Northern Hemisphere winter storm track intensity. J Climate 15(6):642–658CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christensen JH, Christensen OB (2003) Severe summertime flooding in Europe. Nature 421:805–806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Christensen JH, Carter TR, Giorgi F (2002) PRUDENCE employs new methods to assess European climate change. EOS 83:13Google Scholar
  10. Christensen OB, Christensen JH, Machenhauer B, Botzet M (1998) Very high-resolution regional climate simulations over Scandinavia-present climate. J Clim 11:3204–3229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Coles S (2001) An introduction to statistical modeling of extreme values. Spinger, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Ferro CAT, Hannachi A, Stephenson DB (2005) Simple non-parametric techniques for exploring changing probability distributions of weather. Submitted to J Climate (in press)Google Scholar
  13. Feser F, Weisse R, von Storch H (2001) Multidecadal atmospheric modelling for Europe yields multi-purpose data. EOS 82:305+310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fischer PH, Brunekreef B, Lebret E (2004) Air pollution related deaths during the 2003 heat wave in The Netherlands. Atmos Environ 38:1083–1085CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Flather R, Smith J (1998) First estimates of changes in extreme storm surge elevations due to doubling CO2. Global Atmos Ocean Syst 6:193–208Google Scholar
  16. Flather R, Smith J, Richards J, Bell C, Blackman D (1998) Direct estimates of extreme surge elevations from a 40 year numerical model simulation and from observation. Global Atmos Ocean Syst 6:165–176Google Scholar
  17. Frei C (2003) Statistical limitation for diagnosing changes in extremes from climate model simulations. Proc. 14th Sympos. on global change and climate variations. AMS Annual Meeting 2003, Long Beach, CA. On CD-ROM, p 6Google Scholar
  18. Frei C, Schär C (2001) Detection probability of trends in rare events: theory and application to heavy precipitation in the Alpine region. J Climate 14:1564–1584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Frei C, Schöll R, Schmidli J, Fukutome S, Vidale PL (2005) Future change of precipitation extremes in Europe: an intercomparison of scenarios from regional climate models. J Geophys Res 110(D3):4124–4137Google Scholar
  20. Frich P, Alexander LV, Della-Marta P, Gleason B, Haylock M, Klein Tank AMG, Peterson T (2002) Observed coherent changes in climatic extremes during the second half of the twentieth century. Clim Res 19:193–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goyette S, Brasseur O, Beniston M (2003) Application of a new wind gust parameterisation; multi-scale case studies performed with the Canadian RCM. J Geophys Res 108:4371--4389Google Scholar
  22. Harnik N, Chang EKM (2003) Storm track variations as seen in radiosonde observations and reanalysis data. J Climate 16:480–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Huth R, Kysely J, Pokorna I (2000) A GCM simulation of heat waves, dry spells, and their relationships to circulation. Clim Change 46:29–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. IPCC (2001) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, p 881Google Scholar
  25. Jacob D (2001) A note to the simulation of the annual and interannual variability of the water budget over the Baltic Sea drainage basin. Meteorol Atmos Phys 77:61–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jacob D, Podzun R, Claussen M (1995) REMO-A model for climate research and weather prediction. International workshop on limited-area and variable resolution models, Beijing, China, October 23–27, 1995, pp 273–278Google Scholar
  27. Jacob D et al (2007) An intercomparison of regional climate models for Europe: design of the experiments and model performance. Clim Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9213-4 (this issue)
  28. Johns TC et al (2003) Anthropogenic climate change for 1860 to 2100 simulated with the HadCM3 model under updated emission scenarios. Clim Dyn 20:583–612Google Scholar
  29. Jones R, Murphy J, Hassell D, Taylor R (2001) Ensemble mean changes in a simulation of the European climate of 2071–2100, using the new Hadley Centre regional climate modelling system HadAM3H/HadRM3H. Hadley Centre Report 2001, available from http://prudence.dmi.dk
  30. Kaas E, Andersen U, Flather RA, Willimas JA, Blackman DL, Lionello P, Dalan F, Elvini E, Nizzero A, Malguzzi P, Pfizenmayer A, von Storch H, Dillingh D, Phillipart M, de Ronde J, Reistad M, Midtbø KH,Vignes O, Haakenstad H, Hackett B, Fossum I, Sidselrud L (2001) Synthesis of the STOWASUS-2100 project: regional storm, wave and surge scenarios for the 2100 century. Danish Climate Centre Report 01–3:22Google Scholar
  31. Katz RW, Brown BG (1992) Extreme events in a changing climate: variability is more important than averages. Clim Change 21:289–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kauker F, Langenberg H (2000) Two models for the climate change related development of sea levels in the North Sea. A comparison. Clim Res 15:61–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kharin VV, Zwiers FW (2000) Changes in the extremes in an ensemble of transient climate simulations with a coupled atmosphere-ocean GCM. J Climate 13:3760–3788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kundzewicz ZW, Szamalek K, Kowalczak P (1999) The great flood of 1997 in Poland. Hydrol Sci J 44:855–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Langenberg H, Pfizenmayer A, von Storch H, Sündermann J (1999) Storm related sea level variations along the North Sea coast: natural variability and anthropogenic change. Cont Shelf Res 19:821–842CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lenderink G, van den Hurk B, van Meijgaard E, van Ulden A, Cuipers H (2003) Simulations of present-day climate in RACMO2: first results and model development. Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute Technical Report, De Bilt, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  37. Lowe JA, Gregory JM, Flather RA (2001) Changes in the occurrence of storm surges around the United Kingdom under a future climate scenario using a dynamic storm surge model driven by the Hadley Centre climate models. Clim Dyn 18:179–188Google Scholar
  38. Lüthi D, Cress A, Davies HC, Frei C, Schär C (1996) Interannual variability and regional climate simulations. Theor Appl Climatol 53:185–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McGregor GR, Ferro CAT, Stephenson DB (2005) Projected changes in extreme weather and climate events in Europe. In: Kirch W, Menne B, Bertollini R (eds) Extreme weather and climate events and public health responses vol. 13–23 Dresden. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, p 303Google Scholar
  40. Mearns LO, Katz RW, Schneider SH (1984) Extreme high-temperature events: changes in their probabilities with changes in mean temperature. J Clim Appl Meteorol 23:1601–1613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meehl GA, Zwiers F, Evans J, Knutson T, Mearns L, Whetton P (2000) Trends in extreme weather and climate events: issues related to modelling extremes in projections of future climate change. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 81:427–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Munich Re (2002) Topics, an annual review of natural catastrophes. Munich Reinsurance Company Publications, Munich, 49 ppGoogle Scholar
  43. Nakićenović N et al (2000) IPCC special report on emissions scenarios, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, p 599Google Scholar
  44. Otterman J, Angell JK, Ardizzone J, Atlas R, Schubert S, Starr D, Wu ML (2002) North-Atlantic surface winds examined as the source of winter warming in Europe. Geophys Res Lett 29, art. no. 1912Google Scholar
  45. Pope DV, Gallani M, Rowntree R, Stratton RA (2000) The impact of new physical parameterizations in the Hadley Centre climate model HadAM3. Clim Dyn 16:123–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Räisänen J, Hansson U, Ullerstig A, Döscher R, Graham LP, Jones C, Meier M, Samuelsson P, Willén U (2004) European climate in the late 21st century: regional simulations with two driving global models and two forcing scenarios. Clim Dyn 22(1):13–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Robinson PJ (2001) On the definition of a heat wave. J Appl Meteorol 40:762–775CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rockel B, Woth K (2007) Future changes in near surface wind speed extremes over Europe from an ensemble of RCM simulations. Clim Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9227-y (this issue)
  49. Roeckner E et al (2003) The atmospheric general circulation model ECHAM 5. PART I: model description, MPI-Report 349, Hamburg, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  50. Schär C, Vidale PL, Lüthi D, Frei C, Häberli C, Liniger M, Appenzeller C (2004) The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heatwaves. Nature 427:332–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schiesser HH, Pfister C, Bader J (1997) Winter storms in Switzerland North of the Alps 1864/65–1993/94. Theor Appl Climatol 58:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shabbar A, Bonsal B (2003) An assessment of changes in winter cold and warm spells over Canada. Nat Hazards 29:173–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Siegismund F, Schrum C (2001) Decadal changes in the wind forcing over the North Sea. Climate Res 18:39–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Stedman JR (2004) The predicted number of air pollution related deaths in the UK during the August 2003 heatwave. Atmos Environ 38:1087–1090CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stefanicki G, Talkner P, Weber RO (1998) Frequency changes of weather types in the Alpine region since 1945. Theor Appl Climatol 60:47–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Steppler J, Doms G, Schättler U, Bitzer HW, Gassmann A, Damrath U, Gregoric G (2003) Meso-gamma scale forecasts using the nonhydrostatic model LM. Meteorol Atmos Phys 82:75–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Swiss Re (2003) Natural catastrophes and reinsurance. Swiss Reinsurance Company Publications, Zürich, p 47Google Scholar
  58. Ulbrich U, Christoph M (1999) A shift of the NAO and increasing storm track activity over Europe due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing. Clim Dyn 15:551–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ulbrich U, Fink AH, Klawa M, Pinto JG (2000) Three extreme storms over Europe in December 1999. Weather 56Google Scholar
  60. von Storch H, Zwiers FW (1999) Statistical analysis in climate research. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, ISBN 0 521 45071 3, p 494Google Scholar
  61. Weisse R, von Storch H, Feser F (2005) Northeast Atlantic and North Sea storminess as simulated by a regional climate model 1958–2001 and comparison with observations. J Climate 18(3):465–479Google Scholar
  62. Woth K (2005) North sea storm surge statistics based on projections in a warmer climate: how important are the driving GCM and the chosen emission scenario? Geophysical Res Lett 32:L22708, doi: 10.1029/2005GL02372
  63. Woth K, Weisse R, von Storch H (2005). Climate change and North Sea storm surge extremes: an ensemble study of storm surge extremes expected in a changed climate projected by four different Regional Climate Models. Ocean Dyn 56(1):3–15, doi: 10.1007/s10236-005-0024-3(in press)
  64. Zwiers FW, Kharin VV (1998) Changes in the extremes of the climate simulated by CCC GCM2 under CO2 doubling. J Climate 11:2200–2222CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Beniston
    • 1
  • David B. Stephenson
    • 2
  • Ole B. Christensen
    • 3
  • Christopher A. T. Ferro
    • 2
  • Christoph Frei
    • 4
  • Stéphane Goyette
    • 1
  • Kirsten Halsnaes
    • 5
  • Tom Holt
    • 6
  • Kirsti Jylhä
    • 7
  • Brigitte Koffi
    • 8
  • Jean Palutikof
    • 6
  • Regina Schöll
    • 4
  • Tido Semmler
    • 9
  • Katja Woth
    • 10
  1. 1.Climate ResearchUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of MeteorologyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  3. 3.Danish Meteorological InstituteCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)ZurichSwitzerland
  5. 5.Risoe National LaboratoryRoskildeDenmark
  6. 6.Climatic Research UnitUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUnited Kingdom
  7. 7.Finnish Meteorological InstituteHelsinkiFinland
  8. 8.University of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland
  9. 9.Met EireannDublinIreland
  10. 10.GKSS Research CenterGeesthachtGermany

Personalised recommendations