Indices for Monitoring Changes in Extremes Based on Daily Temperature and Precipitation Data

TitleIndices for Monitoring Changes in Extremes Based on Daily Temperature and Precipitation Data
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsZhang, X, Alexander L, Hegeri G C., Jones P D., Tank A K., Peterson T C., Trewin B, and Zwiers F W.
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Number6
Pages851-870
Date Published10/2011
Abstract / Summary

Indices for climate variability and extremes have been used for a long time, often by assessing days with temperature or precipitation observations above or below specific physically-based thresholds. While these indices provided insight into local conditions, few physically based thresholds have relevance in all parts of the world. Therefore, indices of extremes evolved over time and now often focus on relative thresholds that describe features in the tails of the distributions of meteorological variables. In order to help understand how extremes are changing globally, a subset of the wide range of possible indices is now being coordinated internationally which allows the results of studies from different parts of the world to fit together seamlessly. This paper reviews these as well as other indices of extremes and documents the obstacles to robustly calculating and analyzing indices and the methods developed to overcome these obstacles. Gridding indices are necessary in order to compare observations with climate model output. However, gridding indices from daily data are not always straightforward because averaging daily information from many stations tends to dampen gridded extremes. The paper describes recent progress in attribution of the changes in gridded indices of extremes that demonstrates human influence on the probability of extremes. The paper also describes model projections of the future and wraps up with a discussion of ongoing efforts to refine indices of extremes as they are being readied to contribute to the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report.

DOI10.1002/wcc.147
Journal: Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Year of Publication: 2011
Number: 6
Pages: 851-870
Date Published: 10/2011

Indices for climate variability and extremes have been used for a long time, often by assessing days with temperature or precipitation observations above or below specific physically-based thresholds. While these indices provided insight into local conditions, few physically based thresholds have relevance in all parts of the world. Therefore, indices of extremes evolved over time and now often focus on relative thresholds that describe features in the tails of the distributions of meteorological variables. In order to help understand how extremes are changing globally, a subset of the wide range of possible indices is now being coordinated internationally which allows the results of studies from different parts of the world to fit together seamlessly. This paper reviews these as well as other indices of extremes and documents the obstacles to robustly calculating and analyzing indices and the methods developed to overcome these obstacles. Gridding indices are necessary in order to compare observations with climate model output. However, gridding indices from daily data are not always straightforward because averaging daily information from many stations tends to dampen gridded extremes. The paper describes recent progress in attribution of the changes in gridded indices of extremes that demonstrates human influence on the probability of extremes. The paper also describes model projections of the future and wraps up with a discussion of ongoing efforts to refine indices of extremes as they are being readied to contribute to the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report.

DOI: 10.1002/wcc.147
Citation:
Zhang, X, L Alexander, GC Hegeri, PD Jones, AK Tank, TC Peterson, B Trewin, and FW Zwiers.  2011.  "Indices for Monitoring Changes in Extremes Based on Daily Temperature and Precipitation Data."  Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 851-870.  https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.147.