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Short-tailed temperature distributions over North America and Implications for Future Changes in Extremes
Geophysical Research Letters
  • Paul C. Loikith, Portland State University
  • J. David Neelin, University of California, Los Angeles
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Earth temperature,
  • Atmospheric models,
  • Climatic changes -- Mathematical models
Some regions of North America exhibit nonnormal temperature distributions. Shorter-than-Gaussian warm tails are a special subset of these cases, with potentially meaningful implications for future changes in extreme warm temperatures under anthropogenic global warming. Locations exhibiting shorter-than-Gaussian warm tails would experience a greater increase in extreme warm temperature exceedances than a location with a Gaussian or long warm-side tail under a simple uniform warm shift in the distribution. Here we identify regions exhibiting such behavior over North America and demonstrate the effect of a simple warm shift on changes in extreme warm temperature exceedances. Some locations exceed the 95th percentile of the original distribution by greater than 40% of the time after this uniform shift. While the manner in which distributions change under global warming may be more complex than a simple shift, these results provide an observational baseline for climate model evaluation.

To the best of our knowledge this work was authored as part of the Contributor's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government.

At the time of publication Paul C. Loikith was affiliated with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Published 2015 American Geophysical Union.

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Citation Information
Loikith, P. C., & Neelin, J. D. (2015). Short-tailed temperature distributions over North America and implications for future changes in extremes. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(20), 8577–8585.