Changing Atmospheric Blocking

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Meteorology


Atmospheric blocking has long been considered one of the key weaknesses of numerical weather and climate models. Many climate scientists are concerned that models are not able to accurately simulate blocking events, and yet if there were to be a change in blocking behaviour this would have a large impact on regional climate. Persistent blocking anticyclones lead to extreme heatwaves and drought in summer and extended cold spells in winter. Such events have been instrumental in leading to several recent extreme seasons in Europe. This project will provide a comprehensive assessment of how well blocking is simulated in state of the art climate models. We will evaluate the ability of the models to reproduce the occurrence of blocking that we see in observations, and we will also for the first time provide a diagnosis of which timescales are responsible for any model biases that we find. Based on the projections of the different climate models we will produce an assessment of how blocking may change in response to future greenhouse gas forcing, and how much confidence we should have in these projections. For Europe, conclusions will be drawn for the likely future occurrence of extreme heatwaves and drought in summer and cold spells in winter.


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Masato G (2012) Wave-breaking characteristics of midlatitude blocking Wave-Breaking Characteristics of Midlatitude Blocking in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

Description Blocking is likely to decrease in general, but summer blocking in W Russia, as in the 2010 heat wave may increase.
Exploitation Route those interested in understanding what climate models give on extreme heat and cold in Europe under climate change
Sectors Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description Blocking is important for extreme heat in summer and cold in winter. It is generally poorly handled by models, and this research enables users to better interpret data for future climate extremes in Europe.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Economic

Description influential in my input as member of UK Climate Change Committee
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact influences my input to the committee on the importance of climate change
Description Many prestigeous lectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact High profile lectures
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016