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This study investigates the potential influences of anthropogenic forcings and natural variability on the risk of summer extreme temperatures over China. We use three multi-thousand-member ensemble simulations with different forcings (with or without anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosol emissions) to evaluate the human impact, and with sea surface temperature patterns from three different years around the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) 2015/16 event (years 2014, 2015 and 2016) to evaluate the impact of natural variability. A generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution is used to fit the ensemble results. Based on these model results, we find that, during the peak of ENSO (2015), daytime extreme temperatures are smaller over the central China region compared to a normal year (2014). During 2016, the risk of nighttime extreme temperatures is largely increased over the eastern coastal region. Both anomalies are of the same magnitude as the anthropogenic influence. Thus, ENSO can amplify or counterbalance (at a regional and annual scale) anthropogenic effects on extreme summer temperatures over China. Changes are mainly due to changes in the GEV location parameter. Thus, anomalies are due to a shift in the distributions and not to a change in temperature variability.
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