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Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Detecting human influence on extreme temperatures in China," by Qiuzi Han Wen et al., GRL (2013); doi:10.1002/grl.50285

Geophysical Research Letters, 40(6) (28 March 2013) 1171-1176; doi:10.1002/grl.50285

Detecting human influence on extreme temperatures in China

  1. Qiuzi Han Wen1,*
  2. Xuebin Zhang2
  3. Ying Xu3, and 
  4. Bin Wang1

This study compares observed and model-simulated spatiotemporal patterns of changes in Chinese extreme temperatures during 1961–2007 using an optimal detection method. Four extreme indices, namely annual maximum daily maximum (TXx) and daily minimum (TNx) temperatures and annual minimum daily maximum (TXn) and daily minimum (TNn) temperatures, are studied. Model simulations are conducted with the CanESM2, which include six 5-member ensembles under different historical forcings, i.e., four individual external forcings (greenhouse gases, anthropogenic aerosol, land use change, and solar irradiance), combined effect of natural forcings (solar irradiance and volcanic activity), and combined effect of all external forcings (both natural and anthropogenic forcings). We find that anthropogenic influence is clearly detectable in extreme temperatures over China. Additionally, anthropogenic forcing can also be separated from natural forcing in two-signal analyses. The influence of natural forcings cannot be detected in any analysis. Moreover, there are indications that the effects of greenhouse gases and/or land use change may be separated from other anthropogenic forcings in warm extremes TXx and TNx in joint two-signal analyses. These results suggest that further investigations of roles of individual anthropogenic forcing are justified, particularly in studies of extremely warm temperatures over China.

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