Some areas warming four times faster than global average
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — In some parts of Europe the hottest days and coldest nights are warming more than four times faster than the global average, according to new research published in Environmental Research Letters.
The warming is most pronounced in a band from southern England and northern France, across the low countries to northern Germany and Denmark, where temperatures on the hottest days have spiked by more than 2 degrees Celsius in many places.
“Climate is fundamentally the distributions of weather. As climate changes, the distributions change,” said Dr. David Stainforth, with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “But they don’t just shift, they change shape. How they change shape depends on where you are. In Britain, climate change will feel very different if you live in Northumbria to if you live in Oxfordshire; different again in Devon.”
The research is a step toward answering one of the big climate-change questions — how will global warming play out on a local and regional level? Armed with information, policy makers may be able to make better decisions.
Analysis of the data also showed that average and slightly hotter than average days have warmed most in regions further south in France and Germany. In eastern Spain and central Italy there has been broad warming across all types of days, but in most places those days which are cooler than average have not warmed so much.
The paper points out that some locations and temperature thresholds have seen little change since 1950. The authors suggest that the results highlight the scale of the difference between global change and the local climate changes felt by individuals.
“Our results also illustrate that the international goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius would involve far greater changes for some places and for some aspects of climate, and therefore for particular individuals, communities and industries,” Stainforth said.
“It is common to discuss climate change in terms of changes in global average temperatures but these can be far from people’s perceptions of climate change,” said Professor Sandra Chapman. “The results in this paper begin to provide a picture of how local climate has been changing across Europe. It is a picture which is closer to that experienced by individuals.”
“Changes in local climate pose challenges for decision makers across society not just when preparing for the climate of the future but even when planning for the climate of today. We need to design buildings so that they don’t overheat, decide which are the best crops to plant, and even plan for variations in large scale productivity,” Stainforth said.
The paper also present the results for changes in the frequency of nights which fall below freezing in winter and days which rise above 28 degrees in summer. These are two thresholds which are important for many impacts such as the availability of snow in ski resorts, building design, and labor productivity.
Regional highlights from the paper include:
- A band from southern England / northern France, across the low countries and northern Germany, to Denmark has experienced the greatest increase in temperatures in the hottest summer days. In this band, the hottest 5 per cent of days have got hotter by more than 2°C in many places.
- The region of greatest change in average summer daytime temperatures is further south in central France and Germany.
- Most regions of Europe have seen little change in the temperatures of the coolest summer days although in eastern Spain and central Italy these days have warmed along with all other types of summer days. Average temperature days in these regions of eastern Spain and central Italy have warmed by more than 2°C in many locations.
- The results show little warming in summer daytime temperatures for most locations in Norway and Sweden, for all types of summer days – hot, average and cool.
- In Europe, the coldest 5 per cent of winter nights have warmed most in eastern France, western Germany and Belgium where changes of more than 2 or even 2.5 degrees Celsius are not uncommon.
- The coldest 5 percent of winter days have not changed as much in these regions but in northern Italy and the Balkans changes of more than 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius are seen in the data.
- In Spain and much of Italy there has been little change in winter nighttime temperatures of all types – warm, average and cool.
- In Norway and Sweden many regions have seen winter nighttime temperatures warm by more than 2 degrees Celsius for average and colder than average nights. Warmer than average nights in this region have warmed less.
- In the United Kingdom the frequency of nights which fall below zero has decreased most substantially in the north east where reductions of at least 10 percent are seen in the observations for some locations.