Several major storms pounded Western Europe in January 2018, generating large damages and casualties. The two most impactful ones, Eleanor and Friederike, are analysed here in the context of climate change. Near surface wind speed station observations exhibit a decreasing trend of the frequency of strong winds associated with such storms. High-resolution regional climate models on the other hand show no trend up to now and a small increase in the future due to climate change. This shows that that factors other than climate change, which are not represented (well) in the climate models, caused the observed decline in storminess over land. A large part is probably due to increases in surface roughness, as shown for a small set of stations covering The Netherlands and in previous studies. This trend could therefore be independent from climate evolution. We concluded that human-induced climate change has had so far no significant influence on storms like the two studied. However, all simulations indicate that global warming could lead to a marginal increase (0-20%) of the probability of extreme hourly winds until the middle of the century, consistent with previous modelling studies. However, this excludes other factors, such as roughness, aerosols, and decadal variability, which have up to now caused a much larger negative trend. Until these factors are simulated well by climate models they cannot give credible projections of future storminess over land in Europe.
R Vautard, GJ van Oldenborgh, E van Meijgaard, H de Vries, A Stepek, SY Philip, SF Kew, Et al.. Human influence on European winter wind storms such as those of January 2018
Status: published, Journal: Earth System Dynamics, Year: 2019, First page: 271, Last page: 286, doi: https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-10-271-2019