Heatwave intensity on the Iberian Peninsula: Future climate projections


Heatwaves are the most relevant extreme climatic events, particularly in the context of global warming and the related increasing impacts on society and the natural environment. This work presents an analysis of climate change scenarios with simulations from the EURO-CORDEX project using the excess heat factor over the Iberian Peninsula. We focus on climate change projections of the heatwave intensity and spatial distribution, which are evaluated for the near future (2021–2050) relative to a reference past climate (1971–2000). Heatwave projections show a general significant increase in intensity, frequency, duration and spatial extent for the whole region. The average change in heatwave intensity is 104% for the whole Iberian Peninsula for the near future 2021–2050. The largest changes occur in the eastern-central region, rising to 150% for the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees. The greater spatial extent of heatwaves strongly suggests increased human exposure, increased energy demand, and implications for fire risk. This spatial trend is predicted to continue in the near future with increases in the maximum spatial heatwave extent ranging from 6% to 8% per decade.

Atmospheric Research, 258:105655