Internal variability in European summer temperatures at 1.5 °C and 2 °C of global warming

2018 - Environ. Res. Lett. 13 064026


Laura Suarez-Gutierrez

Additional authors:

Chao Li, Wolfgang A Müller, Jochem Marotzke




We use the 100-member Grand Ensemble with the climate model MPI-ESM to evaluate the controllability of mean and extreme European summer temperatures with the global mean temperature targets in the Paris Agreement. We find that European summer temperatures at 2 °C of global warming are on average 1 °C higher than at 1.5 °C of global warming with respect to pre-industrial levels. In a 2 °C warmer world, one out of every two European summer months would be warmer than ever observed in our current climate. Daily maximum temperature anomalies for extreme events with return periods of up to 500 years reach return levels of 7 °C at 2 °C of global warming and 5.5 °C at 1.5 °C of global warming. The largest differences in return levels for shorter return periods of 20 years are over southern Europe, where we find the highest mean temperature increase. In contrast, for events with return periods of over 100 years these differences are largest over central Europe, where we find the largest changes in temperature variability. However, due to the large effect of internal variability, only four out of every ten summer months in a 2 °C warmer world present mean temperatures that could be distinguishable from those in a 1.5 °C world. The distinguishability between the two climates is largest over southern Europe, while decreasing to around 10% distinguishable months over eastern Europe. Furthermore, we find that 10% of the most extreme and severe summer maximum temperatures in a 2 °C world could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.