The lack of wind variability means that the future impacts of climate change may be underestimated in Europe and North America
Extratropical winds have a strong influence on the climate in extratropical regions and are known to vary from decade to decade. However, their variability is currently not taken into account in climate models making predictions for future climates in these regions. The researchers inserted them into predictions of how extratropical climates will change by mid-century, and found that the uncertainty increased dramatically, meaning that unusually hot, cold, dry, or humid decades are likely. to be more frequent here than previously thought.
Climate models may underestimate the impact climate change will have on the UK, North America and other extratropical regions due to a crucial missing element, new research shows.
Scientists at the University of Reading have warned that current projections of how global warming will affect regional temperatures and precipitation do not take into account that extratropical winds, which have a strong influence on the climate at mid-latitudes , vary considerably from decade to decade. to decade.
The research team used observations of these winds during the 20e century to better represent their variability in the predictions of future climate models. They found that this made predictions of the future climate less certain in extratropical regions – particularly in the North Atlantic region and particularly in winter – and that unusually hot, cold, humid or dry decades should be much more likely. by mid-century in this region than suggested by existing climate simulations.
Dr Christopher O’Reilly, Royal Society Research Fellow in the Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, said: â€œDecadal variations in wind strength in the more temperate regions of the world is a missing ingredient. crucial in the projections of the future climate of these regions.
“By adding this additional variability in climate models, we have shown that these winds can be an additional source of uncertainty in addition to climate change. This could mean that in these regions, temperatures are more often pushed to highs or lows. relatively extreme lows, some decades they could counteract rising temperatures and heavy rainfall caused by climate change, other times they could make these extremes even more extreme.
“It’s yet another reminder that preparedness will be crucial as we face more variable regional climates as the impact of climate change going forward.”
The team used wind observation data from the Met Office, Copernicus Climate Data Store, and NOAA, among others, to perform their analysis and strengthen the climate model predictions.
The range of temperature and precipitation most likely to occur in the coming decades has increased by 50% in Northern Europe, North America and the Mediterranean, with uncertainty almost doubling in some cases.
This reinforces previous research which suggests that precipitation and temperatures that are highly unlikely today will be within the likely range in the future due to climate change.
Updated projections showed that the Mediterranean would experience a higher frequency of drier than average winters. As studies show that the dry winters in this region make heat waves in Europe more frequent the following summer, this has implications for the health and infrastructure of several countries.
The study is published in Earth & Environment Communications.
Precipitation becomes more variable as the climate warms
The projections of the extratropical climate of the northern hemisphere underestimate the internal variability and the associated uncertainty, Earth & Environment Communications, DOI: 10.1038 / s43247-021-00268-7
Provided by the University of Reading
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