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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-91
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-91
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  24 Feb 2020

24 Feb 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ESD and is expected to appear here in due course.

Storylines of the 2018 Northern Hemisphere heat wave at pre-industrial and higher global warming levels

Kathrin Wehrli, Mathias Hauser, and Sonia I. Seneviratne Kathrin Wehrli et al.
  • Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Extreme temperatures were experienced over a large part of the Northern Hemisphere during the 2018 boreal summer (hereafter referred to as NH2018 event), leading to major impacts to agriculture and society in the affected countries. Previous studies highlighted both the anomalous atmospheric circulation patterns during the event and the background warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions as main drivers for the event. In this study, we present Earth System Model experiments investigating different storylines of the NH2018 event given the same atmospheric circulation and alternative background global warming for: no human imprint, the 2018 conditions, and different mean global warming levels (1.5 °C, 2 °C, 3 °C, and 4 °C). The results reveal that the human-induced background warming was a strong contributor to the intensity of the NH2018 event, and that resulting extremes under similar atmospheric circulation conditions at higher levels of global warming would reach very dangerous levels. About 32 % (61 %) of the inhabited or agricultural area in the investigated region would reach maximum temperatures over 40 °C under 2 °C (4 °C) of global warming and similar atmospheric circulation conditions.

Kathrin Wehrli et al.

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Kathrin Wehrli et al.

Kathrin Wehrli et al.

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Short summary
The 2018 summer was unusually hot for large areas in the Northern Hemisphere and heat waves on three continents led to major impacts to agriculture and society. This study investigates storylines for the extreme 2018 summer given the observed atmospheric large-scale circulation but different levels of global warming. The results reveal a strong contribution by the present-day level of global warming and show a dramatic outlook to similar events in a warmer climate.
The 2018 summer was unusually hot for large areas in the Northern Hemisphere and heat waves on...
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