EGU23-6838, updated on 11 Apr 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Changes in Arctic climate variability and extremes: effects on migratory birds

Nomikos Skyllas1 and Richard Bintanja1,2
Nomikos Skyllas and Richard Bintanja
  • 1University of Groningen, Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG)
  • 2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, The Netherlands

The climate is changing most rapidly in the Arctic because of Arctic amplification, influencing migratory bird species that depend on the short, but productive Arctic summer climate. A potential increase in climate variability can lead to reduced reproductive success and even be a major source of mortality for these birds. Most studies so far, focus on mean changes in climate, telling part of the story. However, along with changes in the mean, changes in the variability of climate will occur. These two combined (changes in mean and variability) can lead to more/less frequent extreme events such as heatwaves, droughts and excessive snowfall or melt.

Here we focus on changes in variability and extremes of Arctic bird-related climatic variables, such as temperature, precipitation, snow cover, primary productivity, solar radiation, and soil moisture. We investigate how strongly these climatic variables vary on a daily, monthly, annual and decadal basis. Furthermore, we infer changes in variability between four distinct climate states (0.5x, 1x, 2x & 4x CO2 level): will the variability and probability for extreme events change in warmer or colder climates? How will this potentially affect Arctic migratory birds? For example, snowfall and ground snow cover are expected to decrease in a warmer climate, resulting in more areas available for nesting. However, snowfall variability is projected to increase, making conditions more unpredictable on an annual basis.

To this end, we carried out four long (500 years), steady-state runs (constant CO2 level), using the state-of-the-art Earth System Model EC-Earth3. We used two versions of the model (EC-Earth3-Veg & EC-Earth3-CC) and 4 CO2 levels: 0.5x, 1x, 2x & 4x CO2 concentration of the year 2022. The end result is 4,000 years of model output data, allowing us to study climate-related changes in climate variability of Arctic bird-related variables.

How to cite: Skyllas, N. and Bintanja, R.: Changes in Arctic climate variability and extremes: effects on migratory birds, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-6838,, 2023.