| Press release

Our Winter Storms are so far not influenced by Climate Change

While extreme heat waves are certainly connected to climate change, this clear link in regards to other extreme events, such as heavy rains, droughts and storms is not as recognizable. This insight has now been published in the international report "Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 from a Climate Perspective." In the report, twenty international research groups highlight the causes of sixteen extreme weather events that occurred globally in 2013. Dr. Frauke Feser and Professor Hans von Storch from the Institute of Coastal Research at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht are among the authors of the internationally recognized publication.

Evaluating windstorm “Christian/Allan”

Zugbahn

Course of windstorm “Christian/Allan” from analyses of the DWD data set (red) and the reconstructions from the HZG’s CoastDat data set (blue). The box shows the area of those stations evaluated for storm statistics. (Original figure from the report)

In co-operation with Dr. Susanne Häseler and Dr. Christiana Lefebvre of the Deutscher Wetterdienst (German Weather Service) and Dr. Martin Stendel of the Danish Meteorological Institute, the coastal researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht were involved in projects that included evaluating data on windstorm “Christian/Allan.”

This windstorm moved across western and northern Europe on the 27th and 28th of October 2013 and inflicted heavy damage on the coastal regions. The results of the “Christian/Allan” study confirm earlier assessments: “Winter storms over the north Atlantic region and north-western Europe show strong, decade-long fluctuations, but at present indicate no long-term trend in connection to climate change,“ explains Dr. Frauke Feser of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht.

What can be discerned is a decrease in storm activity from the 1880s to the mid-1960s and then a subsequent increase up until the mid-1990s. Storm activity decreased again from the mid-1990s.

Bodenanalyse

Ground analysis from 28.10.2013 around 12 UTC (source: Deutscher Wetterdienst / German Weather Service)

”Unlike what can be observed with heat waves, the fluctuations of these storm activities can be attributed to natural variability alone. We are not excluding, however, that anthropogenic climate change could influence storm activity in the more distant future,” says Professor Hans von Storch.

The link between heat waves and anthropogenic climate change is, on the other hand, clear. In the report, American scientists describe, for example, the extreme heat wave spanning all of 2013 in California on the west coast of the United States. According to the researchers, the atmospheric conditions for such heat waves are arising far more frequently than in previous years.

Download the Climate Report

Sturm Fotolia_2815037_M© Matthias Krüttgen - Fotolia.com

Storm in the North Sea (source: Fotolia, Matthias Kröttgen)

Published as a “special report” by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the investigation is part of a yearly series on the link between current extreme weather events and climate change. Publisher: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States Department of Commerce.

The complete report can be downloaded here: Download Report [www.ametsoc.org]

The NOAA press release [www.noaanews.noaa.gov]

Additional information, such as how wind climate has changed in northern Germany over the last sixty years, is offered by the Northern German Climate Monitor (German):

http://www.norddeutscher-klimamonitor.de

For further information, please contact


Prof. Hans von Storch

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht

Institute of Coastal Research
Max-Planck-Str. 1, 21502 Geesthacht

Phone: +49 (0)171 212 2046

E-mail contact

Dr. Frauke Feser

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht

Institute of Coastal Research
Max-Planck-Str. 1, 21502 Geesthacht

E-mail contact

Jessica Klepgen

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht

Institute of Coastal Research
Max-Planck-Str. 1, 21502 Geesthacht

Phone: +49 (0)4152 87-2833

E-mail contact