Over the 21st century, the mean increase in surface air temperatures is projected to be associated with an increase in warm temperature extremes and a decrease in the cold ones. Over the last decades, evidence already suggests these changes, as for example recurrent warm record-breaking temperatures or the increase in heatwave occurrence.
We investigate the evolution of daily temperature extremes over the 20th and the 21st centuries in France and in Europe, their possible changes in frequency and intensity. We also focus on the mechanisms responsible for these projected climate extremes, as well as the maximum values of temperature extremes at the end of the century.
First, we investigate the evolution of daily record-breaking temperatures in Europe based on the observations and an ensemble of climate models. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the theoretical evolution of the records in a stationary climate correctly reproduce the observed one, for both cold and warm records. From 1980, a shift from that theoretical evolution is observed, with an increase in the occurrence of warm records and a decrease in the occurrence of the cold ones.
Climate models suggest an amplification of these changes over the century. At the end of the 21st century, the mean number of warm records shows a strong increase compared to the first decades of the observed period. The strongest increase in warm record-breaking temperatures is found in summer, and particularly over the Mediterranean edge. On the contrary, the occurrence of cold record-breaking temperatures are projected to strongly decrease, with almost no new records in the last decades of the century, for all seasons and over the entire European domain.
Observed variations of daily record-breaking temperatures are still, at the beginning of the 21st century, consistent with internal climate variability only. Over the century, the anthropogenic influence emerge from these fluctuations in the summer record evolutions, around the 2030 and the 2020 for the warm and cold records respectively. By 2100, the mean changes in record occurrences cannot be explained by the internal climate variability solely, for all seasons and over the entire European domain.
Then, we investigate future extreme temperatures at the end of the 21st century, as well as severe heatwaves leading to these extremes. Climate models analyses are associated with regional climate modeling and a French station-based dataset of observations.
The summer 21st century evolution of the maximum values of daily warm record-breaking temperatures is first examined in the observations and the high resolution simulation of the regional model. By 2100, an increase of these values is projected, with maximum changes between +6.6°C and +9.9°C in summer among the French regions. These projections assessed from a regional model may underestimate the changes. The multi-model mean estimate of the maximum increase of these values is indeed around +11.8°C in summer over France.
Finally, regional modeling experiments of severe heatwaves in the climate of the end of the 21st century in Europe are performed. These severe heatwaves are selected cases from a global climate model trajectory. The experiments results show the role of the soil-atmosphere interactions in the amplification of the extreme temperatures during such future severe warm events. The occurrence of the heatwave is first caused by the atmospheric circulation, but the temperature anomaly can then be amplified according to the soil moisture content before the event, and thus the climatic conditions of the preceding weeks and months.
M. Robert VAUTARD, LSCE, Gif-sur-Yvette (Rapporteur)
M. Martin BENISTON, Université de Genève, Genève (Rapporteur)
M. Fabio d’ANDREA, LMD, Paris (Examinateur)
M. Julien CATTIAUX, CNRM-GAME, Toulouse (Examinateur)
M. Serge CHAUZY, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse (Examinateur)
M. Laurent TERRAY, Cerfacs, Toulouse (Directeur de thèse)
Mme Sylvie PAREY, EDF, Chatou (Invitée)