Global temperature targets have become the cornerstone for global climate policy discussions. Given the goal of the Paris Accord to limit the rise in global mean temperature to well below 2.0oC above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts toward the more ambitious 1.5oC goal, there is increasing focus in the climate science community on what the relative changes in regional climate extremes may be for these two scenarios. Despite the successes of major climate science modeling efforts, there is still a significant information gap regarding the regional and seasonal changes in some climate extremes over the U.S. as a function of these global mean temperature targets.
During the spring and summer, large amounts of heat and moisture are transported northward into the central and eastern U.S. by the Great Plains Low-Level Jet (GPLLJ) – an atmospheric river which dominates the subcontinental scale climate variability during the warm half of the year. Accordingly, the GPLLJ and its vast spatiotemporal variability is highly influential over several types of extreme climate anomalies east of the Rocky Mountains, including, drought and pluvial events, tornadic activity, and the evolution of central U.S warming hole.
Changes in the GPLLJ and its variability are probed from the perspective of several hundred climate realizations afforded by the availability of climate model experiments from the Half a degree additional warming, Prognosis, and Projected Impacts (HAPPI) effort – a suite of multi-model ensemble AMIP simulations forced by 1.5oC and 2oC levels of global warming. The multimodel analysis focuses on the variable magnitude of the seasonal changes in the mean GPLLJ and shifts in the extremes of the prominent modes of GPLLJ variability – both of which have implications for the future shifts in extreme climate events over the Great Plains, Midwest, and southeast regions of the U.S.