Poorest countries experience earlier anthropogenic emergence of daily temperature extremes

Luke Harrington, D Frame, Erich Fischer, Ed Hawkins, Manoj Joshi, Chris Jones

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Understanding how the emergence of the anthropogenic warming signal from the noise of internal variability translates to changes in extreme event occurrence is of crucial societal importance. By utilising simulations of cumulative carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and temperature changes from eleven earth system models, we demonstrate that the inherently lower internal variability found at tropical latitudes results in large increases in the frequency of extreme daily temperatures (exceedances of the 99.9th percentile derived from pre-industrial climate simulations) occurring much earlier than for mid-to-high latitude regions. Most of the world’s poorest people live at low latitudes, when considering 2010 GDP-PPP per capita; conversely the wealthiest population quintile disproportionately inhabit more variable mid-latitude climates. Consequently, the fraction of the global population in the lowest socio-economic quintile is exposed to substantially more frequent daily temperature extremes after much lower increases in both mean global warming and cumulative CO2 emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number055007
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number5
Early online date17 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

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