Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Extreme summertime temperatures to become a regular occurrence, researcher predicts

Date:
September 21, 2011
Source:
Springer
Summary:
In a new article, researchers have estimated the impact near-term increases in global-mean temperatures will have on summertime temperatures in the US and around the globe.

In an article in the current issue of the journal Climate Change Letters, a Boston University researcher has estimated the impact near-term increases in global-mean temperatures will have on summertime temperatures in the U.S. and around the globe.

The "2C global warming target" is in reference to the current international efforts to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases and limit human-induced global-mean near-surface temperature increases to 2C (3.5F) relative to the pre-industrial era, three-fifths of which has already occurred.

"We wanted to determine the impact such a temperature increase might have upon the frequency of seasonal-mean temperature extremes in various regions of the world, even if we were to avoid this target" said Bruce Anderson, associate professor of geography and environment and the study's author. "In particular, we wanted to determine if preventing the global-mean temperature increase from reaching this threshold would prevent extreme temperature values from becoming a normal occurrence in these regions."

Anderson's research indicates that if the 2C increase were to come to pass, 70-80% of the land surface will experience summertime temperature values that exceed observed historical extremes (equivalent to the top 5% of summertime temperatures experienced during the second half of the 20th century) in at least half of all years. In other words, even if an increase in the global mean temperature is limited to 2C, current historical extreme values will still effectively become the norm for 70-80% of Earth's land surface.

"Many regions of the globe -- including much of Africa, the southeastern and central portions of Asia, Indonesia, and the Amazon -- are already committed to reaching this point, given current amounts of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere," said Anderson. Global-mean temperatures are expected to increase an additional 0.6C (1F) over the coming decades even if no more carbon dioxide, methane, or other heat-trapping gases are added to the atmosphere.

In the United States, the impacts are expected to be most severe over the western third of the country. "In these regions, if the 2C threshold is passed, it is more likely than not that every summer will be an extreme summer compared with today," said Anderson. Further, the region is expected to follow soon after Africa, Asia, and the Amazon as one in which summertime temperature extremes will become the norm. "While the western third of the U.S. is not committed to reaching such a situation, it is certainly on the brink," said Anderson.

"While previous work, including our own and that of researchers at Stanford, has highlighted that summertime temperature extremes, and how frequently they occur, will change significantly even in response to relatively small increases in global-mean temperatures, the extent and immediacy of the results really caught us off guard," said Anderson. "Because these results are referenced to increases in global-mean temperatures, and not some particular time or change in amount of heat-trapping gases, they hold whether we reach this global-mean temperature increase in the next 40-50 years as currently projected, or the next century. They really are telling us that this is a temperature threshold that poses significant risks to our lives and livelihoods."

Extreme summertime temperatures killed tens of thousands in Europe in 2003 and Russia in 2010 and produced over $50 billion in agriculture losses across the central and eastern U.S. in 1988. In addition, at least 18 states, including much of the southern and south-eastern U.S., suffered through these types of extreme conditions this past summer.

"We find that the results are sensitive to both the observational dataset used to determine the range of historical variability and the numerical model data used to determine the grid-point increases in future temperatures," said Anderson. Despite these caveats, the findings suggest that substantial fractions of the globe could experience seasonal-mean temperature extremes with high regularity well before the 2C global-warming target is reached.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bruce T. Anderson. Near-term increase in frequency of seasonal temperature extremes prior to the 2C global warming target. Climatic Change, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0196-4

Cite This Page:

Springer. "Extreme summertime temperatures to become a regular occurrence, researcher predicts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110909111449.htm>.
Springer. (2011, September 21). Extreme summertime temperatures to become a regular occurrence, researcher predicts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110909111449.htm
Springer. "Extreme summertime temperatures to become a regular occurrence, researcher predicts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110909111449.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins