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Non-analog increases to air, surface, and belowground temperature extreme events due to climate change

December 9, 2020

Air temperatures (Ta) are rising in a changing climate, increasing extreme temperature events. Examining how Ta increases are influencing extreme temperatures at the soil surface and belowground in the soil profile can refine our understanding of the ecological consequences of rising temperatures. In this paper, we validate surface and soil temperature (Ts: 0–100-cm depth) simulations in the SOILWAT2 model for 29 locations comprising 5 ecosystem types in the central and western USA. We determine the temperature characteristics of these locations from 1980 to 2015, and explore simulations of Ta and Ts change over 2030–2065 and 2065–2100 time periods using General Circulation Model (GCM) projections and the RCP 8.5 emissions scenario. We define temperature extremes using a nonstationary peak over threshold method, quantified from standard deviations above the mean (0-σ: an event >∼">>∼>∼ 51% of extreme events; 2-σ:>∼98%">σ:>∼98%σ:>∼98%). Our primary objective is to contrast the magnitude (C) and frequency of occurrence of extreme temperature events between the twentieth and twenty-first century. We project that temperatures will increase substantially in the twenty-first century. Extreme Ta events will experience the largest increases by magnitude, and extreme Ts events will experience the largest increases by proportion. On average, 2-σ extreme Ts events will increase by 3.4 C in 2030–2065 and by 5.3 C in 2065–2100. Increases in extreme Ts events will often exceed + 10 C at 0–20 cm by 2065–2100, and at 0–100 cm will often exceed 5.0 standard deviations above 1980–2015 values. 2-σ extreme Ts events will increase from 0.9 events per decade in 1980–2015 to 23 events in 2030–2065 and 38 events in 2065–2100. By 2065–2100, the majority of months will experience extreme events that co-occur at 0–100 cm, which did not occur in 1980–2015. These projections illustrate the non-analog temperature increases that ecosystems will experience in the twenty-first century as a result of climate change.

Publication Year 2020
Title Non-analog increases to air, surface, and belowground temperature extreme events due to climate change
DOI 10.1007/s10584-020-02944-7
Authors M.D. Petrie, John B. Bradford, W.K. Lauenroth, D.R. Schlaepfer, Caitlin M. Andrews, D.M. Bell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Climate Change
Index ID 70217001
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center