Revealing trends in extreme heatwave intensity: applying the UNSEEN approach to Nordic countries

Project activity
Februar 2024
IOP Science
Environmental Reseach Letters

The increase in heatwave intensity, causing heat stress and crop failures in many regions is a concerning impact of global climate change. In northern Europe, significant interannual variability previously prevented robust assessments of trends in heat extremes. However, with a large-ensemble seasonal hindcasts and archived forecasts dataset covering 1981–2022 multiple realisations of weather patterns can be pooled and assessed. What are recent trends of extreme temperatures? Has the risk for a 100-year heatwave event increased in Northern Europe? We apply the UNSEEN (UNprecedented Simulated Extremes using ENsembles) approach to assess the credibility of the model ensemble and use non-stationary extreme value analysis to quantify recent trends in extreme 3-day heatwaves in late spring and early summer (May to July). We find significant non-stationarity and positive trends in annual maximum heatwave intensity. We also show that heatwave volatility, i.e. the risk of clearly outstanding heatwaves, is highest in central Scandinavia.