A Global Analysis of the Link between Soil Moisture Dynamics and Warm Extremes.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 9:30 AM
Erik Casagrande1, Niranjan Kumar Kondapalli1, Brigitte Mueller2, Diego G Miralles3 and Annalisa Molini4, (1)Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, (2)Environment Canada, Toronto, ON, Canada, (3)Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, (4)Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, iWATER, Institute Centre for Water Advanced Technology & Environmental Research, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Under future climatic scenarios long-lasting warm extremes, such as heat waves, are expected to become more intense, persistent and frequent for both temperate and arid regions, resulting in diverse but nonetheless significant impacts for the human health, sustainable development and economy of these regions. As the underlying processes responsible for triggering and sustaining warm extremes are extremely variegate and yet not well understood, the occurrence of extreme events such heat waves and prolonged droughts results exceedingly difficult to predict and model. Major uncertainties arise from the fact that warm extremes mainly derive from the interplay of large-scale atmospheric processes and local feedbacks operating across very different spatial and temporal scales, and are characterized by several thresholds, limiting factors and non-linearities determining their deviation from the “classical” extreme-value theory.

In this study we explore – from a global point of view – the role of local and synoptic dynamical components in initiating warm extremes and in determining their spatial and temporal clustering. Previous studies have already highlighted the role of large negative soil moisture anomalies in causing and sustaining long periods of dry and hot weather. For this reason we propose here a novel approach to the characterization of warm extremes, based on the conditioning of traditional air temperature quintile statistics to antecedent soil moisture conditions.

Case studies from different climatic regimes are shown in order to prove the major and varied role of antecedent soil moisture conditions across the different regions of the world. In addition, we also investigate the connection between regional climate features and large-scale dynamics during warm extremes by the joint usage of classical diagnostic analysis and novel statistics for the detection of cross-scale interactions.