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Title: Persistent cold air outbreaks over North America in a warming climate

This study examines future changes of cold air outbreaks (CAO) using a multi-model ensemble of global climate simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 as well as regional high resolution climate simulations. In the future, while robust decrease of CAO duration dominates in most regions, the magnitude of decrease over northwestern U.S. is much smaller than the surrounding regions. We identified statistically significant increases in sea level pressure during CAO events centering over Yukon, Alaska, and Gulf of Alaska that advects continental cold air to northwestern U.S., leading to blocking and CAO events. Changes in large scale circulation contribute to about 50% of the enhanced sea level pressure anomaly conducive to CAO in northwestern U.S. in the future. High resolution regional simulations revealed potential contributions of increased existing snowpack to increased CAO in the near future over the Rocky Mountain, southwestern U.S., and Great Lakes areas through surface albedo effects, despite winter mean snow water equivalent decreases in the future. Overall, the multi-model projections emphasize that cold extremes do not completely disappear in a warming climate. Concomitant with the relatively smaller reduction in CAO events in northwestern U.S., the top 5 most extreme CAO events may still occurmore » in the future, and wind chill warning will continue to have societal impacts in that region.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Reading (United Kingdom). NCAS-Climate and Dept. of Meteorology
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
KP1703010; AC05-76RL01830
Published Article
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
IOP Publishing
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; cold air outbreaks; sea level pressure; snow water equivalent; wind chill warning
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1182878