Spatial variations in the warming trend and the transition to more severe weather in midlatitudes

Francisco Estrada, Dukpa Kim, Pierre Perron

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Due to various feedback processes called Arctic amplification, the high-latitudes’ response to increases in radiative forcing is much larger than elsewhere in the world, with a warming more than twice the global average. Since the 1990’s, this rapid warming of the Arctic was accompanied by no-warming or cooling over midlatitudes in the Northern Hemisphere in winter (the hiatus). The decrease in the thermal contrast between Arctic and midlatitudes has been connected to extreme weather events in midlatitudes via, e.g., shifts in the jet stream towards the equator and increases in the probability of high-latitude atmospheric blocking. Here we present an observational attribution study showing the spatial structure of the response to changes in radiative forcing. The results also connect the hiatus with diminished contrast between temperatures over regions in the Arctic and midlatitudes. Recent changes in these regional warming trends are linked to international actions such as the Montreal Protocol, and illustrate how changes in radiative forcing can trigger unexpected responses from the climate system. The lesson for climate policy is that human intervention with the climate is already large enough that even if stabilization was attained, impacts from an adjusting climate are to be expected.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

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© 2021, The Author(s).

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