Publication: A storyline view of the projected role of remote drivers on summer air stagnation in Europe and the United States
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IOP Publishing Ltd
Storylines of atmospheric circulation change, or physically self-consistent narratives of plausible future events, have recently been proposed as a non-probabilistic means to represent uncertainties in climate change projections. Here, we apply the storyline approach to 21st century projections of summer air stagnation over Europe and the United States. We use a Climate Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) ensemble to generate stagnation storylines based on the forced response of three remote drivers of the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitude atmospheric circulation: North Atlantic warming, North Pacific warming, and tropical versus Arctic warming. Under a high radiative forcing scenario (SSP5-8.5), models consistently project increases in stagnation over Europe and the U.S., but the magnitude and spatial distribution of changes vary substantially across CMIP6 ensemble members, suggesting that future projections are not well-constrained when using the ensemble mean alone. We find that the diversity of projected stagnation changes depends on the forced response of remote drivers in individual models. This is especially true in Europe, where differences of similar to 2 summer stagnant days per degree of global warming are found amongst the different storyline combinations. For example, the greatest projected increase in stagnation for most European regions leads to the smallest increase in stagnation for southwestern Europe; i.e. limited North Atlantic warming combined with near-equitable tropical and Arctic warming. In the U.S., only the atmosphere over the northern Rocky Mountain states demonstrates comparable stagnation projection uncertainty, due to opposite influences of remote drivers on the meteorological conditions that lead to stagnation.
This work was supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte [Grant Number FPU16/01972]; the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad [Grant Number RYC-2014-15036]; and the Spanish Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad [Grant Numbers CGL2017-83198-R and RTI2018-096402-B-I00]. J L S was supported by the Ubben Program for Carbon and Climate Science while a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern. D E H was supported by U.S. National Science Foundation grant CBET-1848683. ERA5 data provided courtesy ECMWF. The authors are also grateful to the World Climate Research Programme's Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and the modelling groups for producing and making available their model outputs. The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments.