Climate Change in North Carolina

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1 Climate Change in North Carolina Dr. Chip Konrad Director of the The Southeast Regional Climate Center Associate Professor Department of Geography University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2 The Southeast Regional Climate Center Interaction and engagement with climate stakeholders Distribution of climate data, data-products, and information Development web-based decision support tools Education of stakeholders on emerging regional climate issues Work with numerous entities, especially National Climate Data Center (NCDC) & state climatologists

3 Describe the climate of NC with a focus on extremes & impactful events 1. Introduction. 1. Extreme events: Their characteristics and trends in time with an emphasis on expected changes and impacts Heavy rain/flooding, droughts, heat waves, cold outbreaks, hurricanes, tornadoes/thunderstorms, & sea level rise 2. Future climate projections and uncertainties

4 Climate Central

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7 Weather vs. Climate Weather = short-term occurrence Climate = long-term weather frequency/average Durham Bulls Individual Stats (Batting) Player POS AB AVG Luke Scott DH Henry Wrigley 1B Chris Gimenez C Leslie Anderson 1B Stephen Vogt C Brandon Guyer RF Nevin Ashley C Rich Thompson LF Cole Figueroa 2B Jeff Keppinger 2B Matt Mangini 1B

8 Climate is the leash, weather is the dog s nose Credit: ConstantContact.com

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10 Katrina Fatalities Due to Extreme Events in the Southeast ( ) *95% from Hurricane Katrina Source: National Weather Service

11 Precipitation Average annual precipitation

12 Average summer season precipitation

13 Precipitation trend across the Southeast Much inter- annual variability

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15 Precipitation Extremes High rainfall rates Flash flooding: property damage and loss of life Broad scale heavy rainfall High surface runoff, river flooding: poor water quality and disease 5-yr running mean of extreme precipitation index for SE region. 1 day 1 in 5-yr events. 5 day 1 in 5-yr events Constructed by K. Kunkel

16 Heavy rain with Hurricane Floyd caused major flooding and over $8 billion in damage across eastern NC, VA and portions of the NE U.S. The most extreme events are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the damages.

17 Hydrological droughts reduced municipal water supplies dried up wells in rural areas, poor water quality, algal blooms etc. Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) North Carolina CD 4 - No long term trend

18 Falls Lake Reservoir in Wake Co. Stream flow (red = <10 th percentile) 2007 Flash Drought in the Southeast

19 Temperature Mean January Minimum Temperature Mean July Maximum Temperature

20 Temperature anomalies across the SE region No long term trend, but warming since the 1970 s

21 Bottom quartile Top quartile Trends in Large Scale Circulation and Winter Weather Events Percentile ranks of years Bottom quartile Top quartile

22 Heat Waves Time series of an index for the occurrence of heat waves defined as 4-day periods (blue) and 7-day periods (red) that are hotter than the threshold for a 1-in-5 year recurrence.

23 Hurricanes Storm surge coastal flooding Strong winds structural damage, downed trees, power outages, especially inland Heavy rainfall Inland flooding structural damage and drowning fatalities

24 Hurricanes Estimated return period in years for hurricanes passing within 50 nautical miles of various locations on the U.S. Coast in the last 100 years (from the National Hurricane Center)

25 The costliest hurricanes to affect the United States ( ) 6 of the 7 $10 billion+ hurricanes have occurred in the past 9 years, all impacting the Southeast region Data from Blake et al. 2011

26 From Blake et al Complicated relationship between ocean/atmosphere and hurricanes Increase in sea surface temperatures hurricanes Stronger winds aloft hurricanes El Nino hurricanes Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation La Nina hurricanes

27 Example: Hurricane Hazel (1954). Landfall near Calabash, NC as a CAT 4

28 RDU 78MPH sustained with gusts to 90 MPH Goldsboro gusts to 120 MPH Washington DC 78 MPH sustained Hazel moved northward at 55 MPH Imagine if Hazel struck today

29 Tornadoes Annual Tornado Reports Ashley 2007 Number of Killer Tornado Events

30 1. Much sub-standard housing (e.g. mobile homes). 2. Many trees and building materials hurled through the air. 3. Poor visibility many trees, low clouds, and precipitation.

31 Deadly tornadoes mostly occur in large tornado outbreaks Nearly 50% of fatalities occur in outbreaks with a recurrence interval of 2/year Fuhrmann, C.M., C.E. Konrad, M.M Kovach, J.T. McLeod, W.G. Schmitz, and P.G. Dixon: Ranking of tornado outbreaks in the United States and their climatological characteristics. Weather and Forecasting, in press.

32 Tornadoes: Historical patterns

33 Lightning - property damage and loss of life Source: Vaisala

34 Global Trend in sea level Local and regional trends depart slightly due to different rates of subsidence and wind influences 17 mm/decade (~ 7 last 100 yrs) Satellite estimate 33 mm/decade btwn

35 Vulnerability to sea level rise greatest along Outer Banks & Sounds Global change.gov

36 Climate Projections Going into the Future

37 Projected Precipitation Changes over SE US (relative to normal) based on different general circulation models Dark line is observed precipitation changes

38 More heavy rainfall

39 Projected Temperature Changes over SE US based on different general circulation models Dark line is observed temperature

40 Much variation in future projection of hurricanes Modeling challenge: Hurricanes are smaller than the grid size of GCMs Slight decrease in tropical cyclones and weak hurricanes Increase in strong hurricanes Control climate storms/27 years CMIP storms/27 years CMIP5 early 21 st century storms/27 years CMIP5 late 21 st century storms/27 years Knutson, T.R. and others. 2013: Dynamical downscaling projections of twenty-first-century Atlantic hurricane activity: CMIP3 and CMIP5 model-based scenarios. Journal of Climate, 26

41 Sea Level Rise

42 THANK YOU Questions? Dr. Chip Konrad The Southeast Regional Climate Center

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