CICERO - Center for International Climate Research
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Influence of blocking on Northern European and Western Russian heatwaves in large climate model ensembles

Nathalie Schaller, Jana Sillmann, James Anstey, Erich M. Fischer, Christian M. Grams, S. Russo

Better preparedness for summer heatwaves could mitigate their adverse effects on society. This can potentially be attained through an increased understanding of the relationship between heatwaves and one of their main dynamical drivers, atmospheric blocking. In the 1979–2015 period, we find that there is a significant correlation between summer heatwave magnitudes and the number of days influenced by atmospheric blocking in Northern Europe and Western Russia. Using three large global climate model ensembles, we find similar correlations, indicating that these three models are able to represent the relationship between extreme temperature and atmospheric blocking, despite having biases in their simulation of individual climate variables such as temperature or geopotential height. Our results emphasize the need to use large ensembles of different global climate models as single realizations do not always capture this relationship. The three large ensembles further suggest that the relationship between summer heatwaves and atmospheric blocking will not change in the future. This could be used to statistically model heatwaves with atmospheric blocking as a covariate and aid decision-makers in planning disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change.

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