EGU22-5090, updated on 27 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Detecting the spatio-temporal propagation of heat waves in a regional single-model large ensemble

Andrea Böhnisch1, Elizaveta Felsche1,2, and Ralf Ludwig1
Andrea Böhnisch et al.
  • 1LMU Munich, Faculty of Geosciences, Department of Geography, Munich, Germany (
  • 2Center for Digital Technology and Management, Munich, Germany

Heat waves are among the most hazardous climate extremes in Europe, commonly affecting large regions for a considerable amount of time. Especially in the recent past heat waves account for substantial economic, social and ecologic impacts and loss. Projections suggest that their number, duration and intensity increase under changing climate conditions, stressing the importance of quantifying their characteristics. Yet, apart from the analysis of single historical events, little research is dedicated to the general propagation of heat waves in space and time. 

Heat waves are rare in their occurrence and limited observational data provide little means for robust analyses and the understanding of dynamical spatio-temporal patterns. Therefore, we seek to increase the number of analyzable events by using a single-model initial condition large ensemble of a regional climate model (Canadian Regional Climate Model Version 5, CRCM5-LE). This provides 50 model members of comparable climate statistics to robustly assess various spatial patterns and pathways of European heat waves in a data set of high spatial resolution. 

Using the CRCM5-LE allows us to explore a novel data-driven approach to infer cause-and-effect relationships, in this case the spatio-temporal propagation of spatially distributed phenomena. Our aim is to investigate specifically the transitions and inter-dependencies among heat wave core regions in Europe to better understand their evolution during the recent past.

We define heat waves as a minimum of three consecutive hot days with temperatures above the 95th JJA (1981-2010) percentile. If a reasonable fraction of the domain land area exhibits a hot day, this time step is used for clustering in order to derive core regions. Each core region is represented by a spatially aggregated time series of the cluster footprint. The approach further includes the derivation of directed links between these core regions using causal discovery and the analysis of associated atmospheric conditions.

Results indicate that directed links among core regions of heat wave occurrence over Europe reproduce parts of observed movements. This helps to group and characterize heat waves according to, e.g. seasonality. Examples of these heat wave cluster transitions show an associated shift of high pressure patterns, suggesting that the approach allows capturing the spatial dislocation of heat wave centers. 

How to cite: Böhnisch, A., Felsche, E., and Ludwig, R.: Detecting the spatio-temporal propagation of heat waves in a regional single-model large ensemble, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-5090,, 2022.