Projected changes in persistent extreme summer weather events: The role of quasi-resonant amplification

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Abstract

Persistent episodes of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere summer have been associated with highamplitude quasi-stationary atmospheric Rossby waves, with zonal wave numbers 6 to 8 resulting from the phenomenon of quasi-resonant amplification (QRA). A fingerprint for the occurrence of QRA can be defined in terms of the zonally averaged surface temperature field. Examining state-of-the-art [Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5)] climate model projections, we find that QRA events are likely to increase by ∼50% this century under business-as-usual carbon emissions, but there is considerable variation among climate models. Some predict a near tripling of QRA events by the end of the century, while others predict a potential decrease. Models with amplified Arctic warming yield the most pronounced increase in QRA events. The projections are strongly dependent on assumptions regarding the nature of changes in radiative forcing associated with anthropogenic aerosols over the next century. One implication of our findings is that a reduction in midlatitude aerosol loading could actually lead to Arctic de-amplification this century, ameliorating potential increases in persistent extreme weather events.

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Mann, M. E., Rahmstorf, S., Kornhuber, K., Steinman, B. A., Miller, S. K., Petri, S., & Coumou, D. (2018). Projected changes in persistent extreme summer weather events: The role of quasi-resonant amplification. Science Advances, 4(10). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aat3272

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