In a new publication led by Dominik Schumacher of Ghent University (DRY-2-DRY project funded by ERC), we have quantified the impact of upstream drought on mega-heatwaves. With the help of satellite observations and modelling, we quantified the degree to which air masses warm up in drought locations and contribute to the escalation of temperatures in downwind regions.
We found that the transport of dry and warm upstream air often happens in strong advection episodes that result in a sudden temperature increase downstream. These ‘heat torrents’ fueled by upwind droughts were responsible for about 30% of the heat anomaly during the 2003 and 2010 European mega-heatwaves.
Schumacher, D.L, J. Keune, C.C. van Heerwaarden, J. Vilà-Guerau de Arellano, A.J. Teuling and D.G. Miralles, 2019. Amplification of mega-heatwaves through heat torrents fuelled by upwind drought. Nature Geoscience, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0431-6