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  1. Abstract Humans’ essential ability to combat heat stress through sweat-based evaporative cooling is modulated by ambient air temperature and humidity, making humid heat a critical factor for human health. In this study, we relate the occurrence of extreme humid heat in two focus regions to two related modes of intraseasonal climate variability: the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO). In the Persian Gulf and South Asia during the May–June and July–August seasons, wet-bulb temperatures of 28°C are found to be almost twice as likely during certain oscillation phases than in others. Variations in moisture are found, to varying degrees, to be an important ingredient in anomalously high wet-bulb temperatures in all three areas studied, influenced by distinct local circulation anomalies. In the Persian Gulf, weakening of climatological winds associated with the intraseasonal oscillation’s propagating center of convection allows for anomalous onshore advection of humid air. Anomalously high wet-bulb temperatures in the northwestern region of South Asia are closely aligned with positive specific humidity anomalies associated with the convectively active phase of the oscillation. On the southeastern coast of India, high wet-bulb temperatures are associated with convectively inactive phases of the intraseasonal oscillation, suggesting that they maymore »be driven by increased surface insolation and reduced evaporative cooling during monsoon breaks. Our results aid in building a foundation for subseasonal predictions of extreme humid heat in regions where it is highly impactful. Significance Statement Understanding when and why extreme humid heat occurs is essential for informing public health efforts protecting against heat stress. This analysis works to improve our understanding of humid heat variability in two at-risk regions, the Persian Gulf and South Asia. By exploring how subseasonal oscillations affect daily extreme events, this analysis helps bridge the prediction gap between weather and climate. We find that extreme humid heat is more than twice as likely during specific phases of these oscillations than in others. Extremes depend to different extents upon combinations of above-average temperature and humidity. This new knowledge of the regional drivers of humid heat variability is important to better prepare for the increasingly widespread health and socioeconomic impacts of heat stress.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Increasing severity of extreme heat is a hallmark of climate change. Its impacts depend on temperature but also on moisture and solar radiation, each with distinct spatial patterns and vertical profiles. Here, we consider these variables’ combined effect on extreme heat stress, as measured by the environmental stress index, using a suite of high-resolution climate simulations for historical (1980–2005) and future (2074–2099, Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5)) periods. We find that observed extreme heat stress drops off nearly linearly with elevation above a coastal zone, at a rate that is larger in more humid regions. Future projections indicate dramatic relative increases whereby the historical top 1% summer heat stress value may occur on about 25%–50% of future summer days under the RCP8.5 scenario. Heat stress increases tend to be larger at higher latitudes and in areas of greater temperature increase, although in the southern and eastern US moisture increases are nearly as important. Imprinted on top of this dominant pattern we find secondary effects of smaller heat stress increases near ocean coastlines, notably along the Pacific coast, and larger increases in mountains, notably the Sierra Nevada and southern Appalachians. This differential warming is attributable to the greater warming ofmore »land relative to ocean, and to larger temperature increases at higher elevations outweighing larger water-vapor increases at lower elevations. All together, our results aid in furthering knowledge about drivers and characteristics that shape future extreme heat stress at scales difficult to capture in global assessments.« less
  4. Abstract Increases in climate hazards and their impacts mark one of the major challenges of climate change. Situations in which hazards occur close enough to one another to result in amplified impacts, because systems are insufficiently resilient or because hazards themselves are made more severe, are of special concern. We consider projected changes in such compounding hazards using the Max Planck Institute Grand Ensemble under a moderate (RCP4.5) emissions scenario, which produces warming of about 2.25 °C between pre-industrial (1851–1880) and 2100. We find that extreme heat events occurring on three or more consecutive days increase in frequency by 100%–300%, and consecutive extreme precipitation events increase in most regions, nearly doubling for some. The chance of concurrent heat and drought leading to simultaneous maize failures in three or more breadbasket regions approximately doubles, while interannual wet-dry oscillations become at least 20% more likely across much of the subtropics. Our results highlight the importance of taking compounding climate extremes into account when looking at possible tipping points of socio-environmental systems.