Strong influence of aerosol reductions on future heatwaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Using the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble experiments, we investigate future heatwaves under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 scenario, separating the relative roles of greenhouse gas increases and aerosol reductions. We show that there will be more severe heatwaves (in terms of intensity, duration and frequency) due to mean warming, with minor contributions from future temperature variability changes. While these changes come primarily from greenhouse gas (GHG) increases, aerosol reductions contribute significantly over the Northern Hemisphere. Furthermore, per degree of global warming, aerosol reductions induce a significantly stronger response in heatwave metrics relative to GHG increases. The stronger response to aerosols is associated with aerosol‐cloud interactions which are still poorly understood and constrained in current climate models. This suggests that there may exist large uncertainties in future heatwave projections, highlighting the critical significance of reducing uncertainties in aerosol‐cloud interactions for reliable projection of climate extremes and effective risk management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4913-4923
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume46
Issue number9
Early online date30 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2019

Keywords

  • HEAT WAVES
  • ANTHROPOGENIC AEROSOLS
  • PRECIPITATION EXTREMES
  • CLOUD INTERACTIONS
  • CLIMATE EXTREMES
  • SPATIAL-PATTERNS
  • TEMPERATURE
  • MODEL
  • UNCERTAINTY
  • RESPONSES

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