3B.2 Anthropogenic influence on long return period daily temperature extremes at regional scales

Monday, 24 January 2011: 4:15 PM
609 (Washington State Convention Center)
Francis W. Zwiers, EC, Toronto, ON, Canada; and X. Zhang and Y. Feng

Observed annual extreme temperatures, namely annual maximum daily maximum (TXx) and minimum (TNx) temperatures and annual minimum daily maximum (TXn) and minimum (TNn) temperatures, are compared with those from climate simulations of multiple model ensembles with historical anthropogenic (ANT) forcing and with combined anthropogenic and natural external forcings (ALL) for the period 1961-2000 at both global and regional scales using a technique that allows us to infer changes in long return period extreme temperatures. We fit generalized extreme value (GEV) distributions to the observed extreme temperatures using a time-evolving pattern of location parameters obtained from model simulated extreme temperatures under ANT or ALL forcing. Evaluation of the parameters of the fitted GEV distributions shows that both ANT and ALL influence can be detected in TNx, TNn, TXn, and TXx at the global scale over the land areas for which there are observations, and also regionally over many large land areas, with detection in more regions in TNx. We therefore conclude that the influence of anthropogenic forcing has had a detectable influence on extreme temperatures that have impacts on human society and natural systems at global and regional scales. External influence is estimated to have resulted in large changes in the likelihood of extreme annual maximum and minimum daily temperatures. Globally, waiting times for events that were expected to recurred once every 20 years in the 1960s are now estimated to exceed 30 years for extreme annual minimum daily maximum temperature and 35 years for extreme annual minimum daily minimum temperature, and to have decreased to less than 10 or 15 years for annual maximum daily minimum and daily maximum temperatures respectively.
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