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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-39
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-39
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 18 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 18 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Changes in statistical distributions of sub-daily surface temperatures and wind speed

Robert J. H. Dunn, Kate M. Willett, and David E. Parker Robert J. H. Dunn et al.
  • Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK

Abstract. With the ongoing warming of the globe, it is important to quantify changes in the recent behaviour of extreme events given their impacts on human health, infrastructure and the natural environment. We use the sub-daily, multi-variate, station-based HadISD dataset to study the changes in the statistical distributions of temperature, dewpoint temperature and wind speeds. Firstly, we use zonally averaged quantities to show that the lowest temperatures during both day and night are changing more rapidly than the highest, with the effect more pronounced in the northern high latitudes. Along with an increases in the zonally-averaged mean temperature, the standard deviation has decreased and the skew increased (increasing positive tail/decreasing negative tail) over the last 45 years, again with a stronger, more robust signal at higher latitudes. Changes in the distribution of dewpoint temperature are similar to those of temperature. However, changes in the distribution of wind speeds indicate a more rapid change at higher speeds than at lower.

Secondly, to assess in more detail the spatial distribution of changes as well as across seasons and hours of the day we study each station individually. For stations which show clear indications of change in the statistical moments, the higher the statistical moment, generally the more spatially heterogenous the patterns of change. The standard deviation of temperatures are increasing in a band stretching from Europe through to China, but are decreasing across North America and in the high northern latitudes, indicating broadening and narrowing of the distributions respectively. Large seasonal differences are found in the change of standard deviations of temperatures over North America and eastern China. Temperatures in Eastern Asia also have increasing skew in the winter in contrast to the remainder of the year. The dewpoint temperatures show smaller variation in all of the moments, but similar patterns to the temperatures. For wind speeds, apart from the USA, standard deviations are decreasing across the world, indicating a decrease in variability.

Finally, we use quantile regression to show changes in the percentiles of distributions over time. These show an increase of high quantiles of temperature in eastern Europe during the summer, and also in northern Europe for low quantiles in the winter, also indicating broadening and narrowing of the distributions respectively. In North America, the largest changes are at the lower quantiles in northern latitudes for autumn and winter. Quantiles of dewpoint temperature are changing most in the autumn and winter, especially in the northern parts of Europe.

Robert J. H. Dunn et al.
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Short summary
Using a sub-daily dataset of in-situ observations we have performed a study to see how the distributions of temperatures and wind speeds have changed over the last 45 years. The change in the location or shape of these distributions show how extreme temperatures or wind speeds have changed. Our results show that cool extremes are warming more rapidly than warm ones in high latitudes, but that in other parts of the world, the opposite is true.
Using a sub-daily dataset of in-situ observations we have performed a study to see how the...
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