Past and projected weather pattern persistence with associated multi-hazards in the British Isles

Paolo De Luca, Colin Harpham, Robert L. Wilby, John K. Hillier, Christian L.E. Franzke, Gregor C. Leckebusch

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Hazards such as heatwaves, droughts and floods are often associated with persistent weather patterns. Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) are important tools for evaluating projected changes in extreme weather. Here, we demonstrate that 2-day weather pattern persistence, derived from the Lamb Weather Types (LWTs) objective scheme, is a useful concept for both investigating climate risks from multi-hazard events as well as for assessing AOGCM realism. This study evaluates the ability of a Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) multi-model sub-ensemble of 10 AOGCMs at reproducing seasonal LWTs persistence and frequencies over the British Isles (BI). Changes in persistence are investigated under two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP8.5 and RCP4.5) up to 2100. The ensemble broadly replicates historical LWTs persistence observed in reanalyses (1971-2000). Future persistence and frequency of summer anticyclonic LWT are found to increase, implying heightened risk of drought and heatwaves. On the other hand, the cyclonic LWT decreases in autumn suggesting reduced likelihood of flooding and severe gales. During winter, AOGCMs point to increased risk of concurrent fluvial flooding-wind hazards by 2100, however, they also tend to over-estimate such risks when compared to reanalyses. In summer, the strength of the nocturnal Urban Heat Island (UHI) of London could intensify, enhancing the likelihood of combined heatwave-poor air quality events. Further research is needed to explore other multi-hazards in relation to changing weather pattern persistence and how best to communicate such threats to vulnerable communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number577
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2019


  • CMIP5
  • LWTs
  • Multi-hazards
  • Persistence
  • RCPs
  • Urban heat island
  • Weather patterns

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