Exceptional atmospheric conditions in June 2023 generated a northwest European marine heatwave which contributed to breaking land temperature records

Ségolène Berthou, Richard Renshaw, Tim Smyth, Jonathan Tinker, Jeremy P. Grist, Juliane uta Wihsgott, Sam Jones, Mark Inall, Glenn Nolan, Barbara Berx, Alex Arnold, Lewis P. Blunn, Juan Manuel Castillo, Daniel Cotterill, Eoghan Daly, Gareth Dow, Breogán Gómez, Vivian Fraser-Leonhardt, Joel J.-M. Hirschi, Huw W. LewisSana Mahmood, Mark Worsfold

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Abstract

The Northwest European shelf experienced unprecedented surface temperature anomalies in June 2023 (anomalies up to 5 °C locally, north of Ireland). Here, we show the shelf average underwent its longest recorded category II marine heatwave (16 days). With state-of-the-art observation and modelling capabilities, we show the marine heatwave developed quickly due to strong atmospheric forcing (high level of sunshine, weak winds, tropical air) and weak wave activity under anticyclonic weather regimes. Once formed, this shallow marine heatwave fed back on the weather: over the sea it reduced cloud cover and over land it contributed to breaking June mean temperature records and to enhanced convective rainfall through stronger, warmer and moister sea breezes. This marine heatwave was intensified by the last 20-year warming trend in sea surface temperatures. Such sea surface temperatures are projected to become commonplace by the middle of the century under a high greenhouse gas emission scenario. © Crown Copyright as represented by Met Office and Scottish Government, and Tim Smyth, Jeremy P. Grist, Juliane Uta Wihsgott, Sam Jones, Mark Inall, Glenn Nolan, Eoghan Daly, Vivian Fraser-Leonhardt, Joel J.-M. Hirschi 2024.
Original languageEnglish
Article number287
Number of pages11
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2024

Keywords

  • Europe
  • atmospheric dynamics
  • atmospheric forcing
  • carbon emission
  • greenhouse gas
  • heat wave
  • modeling
  • rainfall
  • sea surface temperature
  • temperature anomaly

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