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Geophysical Research Letters

Future European temperature change uncertainties reduced by using land heat flux observations

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Abstract

[1] The variability of European summer climate is expected to increase in the next century due to increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases, likely resulting in more frequent and more extreme droughts and heatwaves. However, climate models diverge on the magnitude of these processes, due to land-surface coupling processes which are difficult to simulate, and poorly constrained by observations. Here we use gridded observation-based sensible heat fluxes to constrain climate change predictions from an ensemble of 15 regional climate models. Land heat flux observations suggest that temperature projections may be underestimated by up to 1 K regionally in Central to Northern Europe, while slightly overestimated over the Mediterranean and Balkan regions. The use of observation-based heat flux data allows significant reductions in uncertainty as expressed by the model ensemble spread of temperature for the 2071–2100 period. Maximal reduction is obtained over France and the Balkan with values locally reaching 40%.

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