Tracking Iberian heatwaves from a new perspective



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Sánchez Benítez, Antonio and Barriopedro Cepero, David and García Herrera, Ricardo (2020) Tracking Iberian heatwaves from a new perspective. Weather and climate extremes, 28 . ISSN 2212-0947

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This paper presents a new heatwave (HW) detection algorithm that identifies spatially coherent HW patterns on synoptic scales and their temporal evolution, yielding the main characteristics (extension, intensity or persistence) of HW events (HWEs). The algorithm has been applied to temperature data from the ERA-Interim reanalysis in order to derive a catalogue of Iberian HWEs for the extended summers (June to September) of the 1979–2017 period. The results indicate mean frequencies of five Iberian HWEs and 16 summer days with HW conditions over Iberia (Iberian HWDs), with significant positive trends in both diagnostics. The analysis of the life-cycle reveals that more than half of the HWEs correspond to events that originated within the region. Although Iberian HWEs last more than one week on average, they tend to be transient, persisting for about three days in the region (Iberian phase), where they reach maximum intensity and extension, and evolving later to other areas. In order to identify recurrent patterns of occurrence, a clustering of Iberian HWEs was performed based on their mean temperature fields. Four clusters were obtained: Atlantic, Subtropical, European and Mediterranean events, which display distinctive characteristics and spatio-temporal evolution, causing HW conditions in western, southern, northern and eastern Iberia, respectively. Interestingly, Mediterranean events largely explain the overall trends in Iberian HWEs and HWDs. The connection between Iberian HWEs and atmospheric circulation patterns as summarized in four Weather Regimes (WRs) was also investigated. During the Iberian phase, HWEs are preferentially associated with ridge conditions in western Europe, with small variations in this WR determining different regional HWEs. However, the four types of regional Iberian HWEs tend to occur under different WRs during their pre- and post-Iberian phases, and show different relationships with WRs on seasonal scales. Using an impact-oriented metric for HWEs that accumulates the intensity of HW conditions over the areas affected by the event through its life-cycle, the top 10 Iberian HWEs were identified. They include well-known recent events such as those of August 2003, and June 2017. Flow analogues of the most outstanding Iberian HWEs reveal that recent warming has contributed to double their extension and intensity, making them more exceptional than they would have been in the past.

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© 2019 The Authors. We acknowledge the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for providing the ERA-Interim reanalysis data. NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data are provided by the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, Colorado ( This work was supported by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad through the PALEOSTRAT (CGL2015-69699-R) project. A. Sánchez-Benítez was funded by grant FPU15/03958 from the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (MECD). The authors would like to thank J.M. Garrido-Pérez for his useful comments.

Uncontrolled Keywords:2003 heat-wave; Extreme temperatures; Air-pollution; SÇummer; Circulation; Patterns; Europe; Responses; Weaher; Ozone.
Subjects:Sciences > Physics > Atmospheric physics
ID Code:61293
Deposited On:03 Jul 2020 06:20
Last Modified:03 Jul 2020 08:02

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