Record dry summer in 2015 challenges precipitation projections in Central Europe

René Orth*, Jakob Zscheischler, Sonia I. Seneviratne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Central Europe was characterized by a humid-temperate climate in the 20th century. Climate change projections suggest that climate in this area will shift towards warmer temperatures by the end of the 21st century, while projected precipitation changes are highly uncertain. Here we show that the 2015 summer rainfall was the lowest on record since 1901 in Central Europe, and that climate models that perform best in the three driest years of the historical time period 1901-2015 project stronger drying trends in the 21st century than models that perform best in the remaining years. Analyses of precipitation and derived soil moisture reveal that the 2015 event was drier than both the recent 2003 or 2010 extreme summers in Central Europe. Additionally there are large anomalies in satellite-derived vegetation greenness. In terms of precipitation and temperature anomalies, the 2015 summer in Central Europe is found to lie between historical climate in the region and that characteristic of the Mediterranean area. Even though the models best capturing past droughts are not necessarily generally more reliable in the future, the 2015 drought event illustrates that potential future drying trends have severe implications and could be stronger than commonly assumed from the entire IPCC AR5 model ensemble.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28334
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

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