Changes in Concurrent Droughts and Heatwaves in the United States

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Omid Mazdiyasni, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States
A combination of climate events (e.g., low precipitation and high temperatures) may cause a significant impact on the ecosystem and society, though individual events involved may not be severe extremes themselves. Analyzing historical changes in concurrent climate extremes is critical to preparing for and mitigating the negative effects of climatic change and variability. This study focuses on the changes in concurrences of heatwaves and meteorological droughts from 1960 – 2010. Despite an apparent hiatus in rising temperature and no significant trend in droughts, we show a substantial increase in concurrent droughts and heatwaves across most parts of the United States, and a statistically significant shift in the distribution of concurrent extremes. While commonly used trend analysis methods do not show any trend in concurrent droughts and heatwaves, a unique statistical approach discussed in this study exhibits a statistically significant change in the distribution of the data.