Perkins-Kirkpatrick, Sarah E.
Fischer, Erich M.
Gibson, Peter B.
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
Understanding what drives changes in heatwaves is imperative for all systems impacted by extreme heat. We examine short- (13 yr) and long-term (56 yr) heatwave frequency trends in a 21‐member ensemble of a global climate model (Community Earth System Model; CESM), where each member is driven by identical anthropogenic forcings. To estimate changes dominantly due to internal climate variability, trends were calculated in the corresponding pre-industrial control run. We find that short-term trends in heatwave frequency are not robust indicators of long-term change. Additionally, we find that a lack of a long-term trend is possible, although improbable, under historical anthropogenic forcing over many regions. All long-term trends become unprecedented against internal variability when commencing in 2015 or later, and corresponding short-term trends by 2030, while the length of trend required to represent regional long-term changes is dependent on a given realization. Lastly, within ten years of a short-term decline, 95% of regional heatwave frequency trends have reverted to increases. This suggests that observed short-term changes of decreasing heatwave frequency could recover to increasing trends within the next decade. The results of this study are specific to CESM and the 'business as usual' scenario, and may differ under other representations of internal variability, or be less striking when a scenario with lower anthropogenic forcing is employed. Show more
Journal / seriesEnvironmental Research Letters
Pages / Article No.
PublisherInstitute of Physics
SubjectHeatwaves; Internal variability; Trends; Observations; Model projections; Global; Regional
Organisational unit03777 - Knutti, Reto / Knutti, Reto
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