Multi - Region Analysis of a New Climate Extremes Index

Friday, 19 December 2014
Andrea Jennifer Dittus1, David J Karoly2, Sophie C Lewis2 and Lisa V. Alexander3, (1)University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia, (2)University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia, (3)University of New South Wales, Climate Change Research Centre, Sydney, Australia
In this study, a new Climate Extremes Index (CEI) is introduced, extending the earlier combined CEI proposed by Karl et al. (1996). It is based on the use of standard extreme indices derived from daily meteorological station data, facilitating the computation of this index and making use of two global gridded extreme indices datasets. The index combines the fraction of area experiencing extreme conditions in daily temperature and daily and annual precipitation, therefore representing a combined measure of extremes. The analysis of this index at the global scale is limited by data availability. In this study, the four continental-scale regions analysed are Europe, North America, Asia and Australia over the period from 1951 to 2010. Additionally, the index is also computed for the entire Northern Hemisphere, corresponding to the first CEI results at the hemispheric scale. Results show statistically significant increases in the percentage area experiencing much above average warm days and nights and much below average cool days and nights for all regions, with the exception of North America for maximum temperature extremes. Increases in the area affected by precipitation extremes are also found for the Northern Hemisphere regions, particularly Europe. This study shows the potential of this new index for climate monitoring and other applications by documenting large-scale changes in the areas experiencing climate extremes. Preliminary detection and attribution results will also be presented using extreme indices computed for the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 climate model simulations (Sillmann et al., 2013).

Karl, T. R., R. W. Knight, D. R. Easterling, and R. G. Quayle, 1996: Indices of climate change for the United States. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77, 279–292.

Sillmann, J., V. V. Kharin, X. Zhang, F. W. Zwiers, and D. Bronaugh (2013), Climate extremes indices in the CMIP5 multimodel ensemble: Part 1. Model evaluation in the present climate, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 118, 1716–1733, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50203.