Conference: 
Joint assembly AGU-GAC-MAC-CGU
Year of publication: 
2015
City: 
Montreal
Abstract: 
Extreme hot spells can have significant impacts on human society and ecosystems, and therefore it is important to assess how these extreme events will evolve in a changing climate. In this study, the impact of climate change on hot days, hot spells, and heat waves, over 10 climatic regions covering Canada, based on 11 Regional Climate Model (RCM) simulations from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) for the June to August summer period, will be presented. These simulations were produced with six RCMs driven by four Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCM), for the A2 emission scenario, for the current 1970–1999 and future 2040–2069 periods. Two types of hot days, namely HD-1 and HD-2, defined respectively as days with only daily maximum temperature (Tmax) and both Tmax and daily minimum temperature (Tmin) exceeding their respective thresholds (i.e., period-of-record 90th percentile of Tmax and Tmin values), are considered in the study. Analogous to these hot days, two types of hot spells, namely HS-1 and HS-2, are identified as spells of consecutive HD-1 and HD-2 type hot days. In the study, heat waves are defined as periods of three or more consecutive days, with Tmax above 32°C threshold. Results suggest future increases in the number of both types of hot days and hot spell events for the 10 climatic regions considered. However, the projected changes show high spatial variability and are highly dependent on the RCM and driving AOGCM combination. Extreme hot spell events such as HS-2 type hot spells of longer duration are expected to experience relatively larger increases compared to hot spells of moderate duration, implying considerable heat related environmental and health risks. Regionally, the Great Lakes, West Coast, Northern Plains, and Maritimes regions are found to be more affected due to increases in the frequency and severity of hot spells and/or heat wave characteristics, requiring more in depth studies for these regions to facilitate appropriate adaptation measures.