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Characterising the changing behaviour of heatwaves with climate change

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Article numberdzw006
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>17/01/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Dynamics and Statistics of the Climate System
Issue number1
Number of pages17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Understanding the impact of future heatwaves and the development of effective adaptation strategies requires knowledge of both the changes in heatwave temperatures and their durations. We develop a framework, utilising extreme value theory, which allows for the effect of a covariate on both the marginal quantiles and the temporal dependence structure of daily maximum temperatures enabling the changes in heatwave temperatures (marginal effects) to be identified separately from duration changes (dependence effects). To characterise future heatwave changes we use global mean temperature anomalies as a covariate to provide the metric for climate change. Future daily maximum temperatures and global mean temperature changes are provided by 13 general circulation models (GCMs) from the CMIP5 archive forced with predicted future emissions of radiative forcing agents from the RCP8.5 scenario. For Orleans, central France, we find that for all GCMs temporal dependence is unaffected by greenhouse gas induced climate change indicating that durations of heatwaves that exceed time varying high thresholds (i.e., the 1 year level) will not change in the future. However, all GCMs project significant changes in the temperature margins with events similar to the 2003 European heatwave increasing by 1.3C to 2.7C and (8.0C to 18.7C) for a 1C (5C) increase in global temperature. Collectively our results indicate there could be a significant increase in heatwave risk as the world warms with heatwaves increasing in temperature significantly faster than the global mean and local average temperatures.