Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling
29 November 2016

Future Risk of Record-Breaking Summer Temperatures and its Mitigation


The probability that summer temperatures in the future will exceed the hottest on record during 1920–2014 is projected to increase at all land locations with global warming. 


Within the BRACE project framework we investigate the sensitivity of this projected change in probability to the choice of emissions scenario using two large ensembles of simulations with the Community Earth System Model. The large ensemble size allows for a robust assessment of the probability of record-breaking temperatures. Globally, the probability that any summer during the period 2061–2081 will be warmer than the hottest on record is 80 % for RCP 8.5 and 41 % for RCP 4.5. Hence, mitigation can reduce the risk of record-breaking temperatures by 39 %. 


The potential for risk reduction is greatest for some of the most populated regions of the globe. In Europe, for example, a potential risk reduction of over 50 % is projected. Model biases and future changes in temperature variance have only minor effects on the results, as their contribution stays well below 10 % for almost all locations.

Flavio Lehner
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
Lehner, F, C Deser, and BM Sanderson.  2016.  "Future Risk of Record-Breaking Summer Temperatures and its Mitigation."  Climatic Change 146(3-4): 363-375.