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Europe's extreme weather over 200 years presented in new book

News: Dec 22, 2014

He is one of the principal authors of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report. Climate scientist Deliang Chen, along with researcher Alexander Walther and his colleagues from four other European universities have now published a new book that shows the development of European extreme weather for the period 1801-2000.

It has involved a huge amount of work to collect and analyse all the meteorological data for the book, entitled European Trend Atlas of Extreme Temperature and Precipitation.

"One must also take into account that we have less data to rely on the farther back in time we go," says Deliang Chen, Professor of Physical Meteorology at the University of Gothenburg.

Climate trend atlas describes changes in extreme weather over 200 years

To be able to follow the climate in Europe over such a long period requires good and reliable material, in particular to be able to see changes in weather and to identify extreme weather events. In an EU project that Deliang Chen participated in, a lot of work was put into collecting material from the 150 years before the computer age.

The quality of the data must be checked carefully of course. This took many hours.

"But it has made it possible to look at extreme weather in a very systematic way for example, and we have had a long-term perspective," says Deliang Chen.

Deliang Chen and his research colleagues have succeeded in identifying trends of extreme weather, with 20 different indexes of different types of extreme weather events.

Extreme weather serious for society

Climate change is a far-reaching issue that entails more than the average temperature increasing globally. At least as important is extreme weather, which can cause great damage to a community.

 "We generally don't think about how much impact climate change has on extreme weather, those exceptional weather events. And yet it is extreme weather which is the most relevant for our circumstances," says Deliang Chen.

In some parts of the world, cold extreme weather is a problem, but in Europe the colder periods are becoming shorter. Extreme weather for us can come in the form of drought and floods. Extreme weather can also be very local. It can mean huge floods in one location that are not felt at all only 100 kms away.

" We must adapt to these changes in weather conditions. These studies show trends, and we can see that most kinds of extreme weather events are on the rise," says Deliang Chen.

Deliang Chen, Professor of Physical Meteorology and
August Röhss Professor of Physical Geography directed towards Geoinformatics at the Department of Earth Sciences
Tel: +46 (0)31 786 4813, e-mail: deliang@gvc.gu.se

Background – Deliang Chen

Deliang Chen is Professor in Physical Meteorology at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and an expert on regional climate analyses for Sweden and China, the relationship between weather and climate, and climate modelling.
Deliang Chen was previously Executive Director of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and has served on a number national and international committees and boards. He has also worked as a consultant on climate issues to various governmental and non-governmental bodies across the world, including as scientific director at the Chinese National Climate Centre in Beijing.




Originally published on: science.gu.se

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