EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A storyline view of the projected role of remote drivers on summer air stagnation in Europe and the United States

José M. Garrido-Pérez1,2, Carlos Ordóñez1, David Barriopedro1,2, Ricardo García-Herrera1,2, Jordan L. Schnell3, and Daniel Ethan Horton4
José M. Garrido-Pérez et al.
  • 1Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas, Departamento de Física de la Tierra y Astrofísica, Madrid, Spain (
  • 2Instituto de Geociencias (IGEO, CSIC-UCM), Madrid, Spain
  • 3Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder NOAA/Global Systems Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 4Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

Air pollutants accumulate in the near-surface atmosphere when atmospheric scavenging, horizontal dispersion, and vertical escape are reduced. This is often termed "air stagnation". Recent studies have investigated the influence that climate change could exert on the frequency of stagnation in different regions of the globe throughout the 21st century. Although they provide a probabilistic view based on multi-model means, there are still large discrepancies among climate model projections. 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. This work applies the storyline approach to 21st century projections of summer air stagnation over Europe and the United States. For that purpose, we use a 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), strong tropical warming relative to Arctic warming is associated with a strengthening and poleward shift of the upper westerlies, which in turn would lead to decreases in stagnation over the northern regions of North America and Europe, as well as increases in some southern regions, as compared to the multi-model mean. On the other hand, North Pacific warming tends to increase the frequency of stagnation over some regions of the U.S. by enhancing the frequency of stagnant winds, while reduced North Atlantic warming does the same over Europe by promoting the frequency of dry days.

Given the response of stagnation to these remote drivers, their evolution in future projections will substantially determine the magnitude of the stagnation increases. Our results show differences of up to 2%/K (~2 stagnant days in summer per degree of global warming) among the storylines for some regions. We will discuss the combination of remote driver responses leading to the highest uncertainties in future air stagnation separately for Europe and the U.S.

How to cite: Garrido-Pérez, J. M., Ordóñez, C., Barriopedro, D., García-Herrera, R., Schnell, J. L., and Horton, D. E.: A storyline view of the projected role of remote drivers on summer air stagnation in Europe and the United States, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2451,, 2022.