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Article in Nature | The future of summer heat waves | Richard Bintanja

16 March 2020

The future of summer heat waves

Climate models show that future summers will be considerable warmer than today – the scorching summer of 2003 will become an ordinary summer in 2050. This is caused by greenhouse forcing and amplified by specific climate processes, in particular the processes that links spring soil drying, reduced surface evaporation and summer warming. This process acts on seasonal but also on century timescales. This study employs this process to constrain uncertainties in the projections of future summer warming. In particular hot and dry continental areas, such as southern Europe, exhibit decreasing surface evaporation and extremely hot summers. With different climate models exhibiting different strengths of this processes it is possible to constrain future warming from the current model bias by as much as 50%. Given the huge potential impacts of extreme warming on health, agriculture and water management, such a reduction in the range of possible projection is imperative for relevant mitigation and adaptation strategies.


Authors: Selten, F.M., Bintanja, R., Vautard, R., van den Hurk, B.

Title: Future continental summer warming constrained by the present-day seasonal cycle of surface hydrology.

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