Loss potentials associated with European windstorms under future climate conditions
Pinto, J. G., Karremann, M. K., Born, K., Della-Marta, P. M. and Klawa, M. (2012) Loss potentials associated with European windstorms under future climate conditions. Climate Research, 54 (1). pp. 1-20. ISSN 0936-577X
To link to this article DOI: 10.3354/cr01111
Possible changes in the frequency and intensity of windstorms under future climate conditions during the 21st century are investigated based on an ECHAM5 GCM multi-scenario ensemble. The intensity of a storm is quantified by the associated estimated loss derived with using an empirical model. The geographical focus is ‘Core Europe’, which comprises countries of Western Europe. Possible changes of losses are analysed by comparing ECHAM5 GCM data for recent (20C, 1960 to 2000) and future climate conditions (B1, A1B, A2; 2060 to 2100), each with 3 ensemble members. Changes are quantified using both rank statistics and return periods (RP) estimated by fitting an extreme value distribution using the peak over threshold method to potential storm losses. The estimated losses for ECHAM5 20C and reanalysis events show similar statistical features in terms of return periods. Under future climate conditions, all climate scenarios show an increase in both frequency and magnitude of potential losses caused by windstorms for Core Europe. Future losses that are double the highest ECHAM5 20C loss are identified for some countries. While positive changes of ranking are significant for many countries and multiple scenarios, significantly shorter RPs are mostly found under the A2 scenario for return levels correspondent to 20 yr losses or less. The emergence time of the statistically significant changes in loss varies from 2027 to 2100. These results imply an increased risk of occurrence of windstorm-associated losses, which can be largely attributed to changes in the meteorological severity of the events. Additionally, factors such as changes in the cyclone paths and in the location of the wind signatures relative to highly populated areas are also important to explain the changes in estimated losses.