EMS Annual Meeting Abstracts
Vol. 20, EMS2023-293, 2023, updated on 06 Jul 2023
EMS Annual Meeting 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Storylines simulations suggest intensification of recent European droughts in warmer climates.

Antonio Sánchez Benítez1, Marylou Athanase1, Thomas Jung1,2, and Helge Goessling1
Antonio Sánchez Benítez et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

According to the latest IPCC report, under the ongoing climate change, extreme weather events in Western Continental Europe, including heatwaves and droughts, are becoming more prolonged, intense, and frequent, and are set to strengthen in a progressively warmer climate. Total changes observed in these extreme events can be discriminated between the relative contributions of dynamical changes – change in likelihood of weather patterns  – and of thermodynamic changes. While the former remains uncertain in future climate projections, the latter is more certain, with a robust and ubiquitous rise in future land-surface temperatures.

To separate and analyze both contributions, we employ the nudged storyline approach, in which our CMIP6 coupled climate model (AWI-CM1) is nudged towards the observed large-scale free-troposphere dynamics using different climate background conditions and initial states. As a result, the same weather conditions, including jet stream and blockings, are simulated in different climates (pre-industrial, present and future 2, 3 and 4 ºC warmer climates). This methodology provides a very efficient manner of making the consequences of climate change more comprehensible to non-experts and experts alike, as extreme events fresh in people's memory are simulated in different climates with just moderate computational resources.

This configuration reproduces recent extreme events, like the 2019 or 2022 European heatwaves and the ongoing European drought. Our simulations reveal an intensification of these hot and dry extreme events both from preindustrial to present (attribution) and from present to warmer (projection) climates. Moreover, taking advantage of our methodology, observed and projected changes can mainly be attributed to thermodynamic changes, with dynamical changes playing a minor role.

How to cite: Sánchez Benítez, A., Athanase, M., Jung, T., and Goessling, H.: Storylines simulations suggest intensification of recent European droughts in warmer climates., EMS Annual Meeting 2023, Bratislava, Slovakia, 4–8 Sep 2023, EMS2023-293, https://doi.org/10.5194/ems2023-293, 2023.