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Monitoring And Understanding Changes In Heat Waves, Cold Waves, Floods, And Droughts In The United States: State Of Knowledge

T. Peterson, R. Heim, R. Hirsch, D. P. Kaiser, H. Brooks, N. Diffenbaugh, R. Dole, J. Giovannettone, Kristen J. Guirguis, T. Karl, R. W. Katz, Kenneth E. Kunkel, D. Lettenmaier, G. McCabe, C. J. Paciorek, K. Ryberg, S. Schubert, V. B. Silva, B. Stewart, A. Vecchia, G. Villarini, Russell S. Vose, J. Walsh, M. F. Wehner, D. Wolock, K. Wolter, C. Woodhouse, D. Wuebbles
Published 2012 · Environmental Science, Physics

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Weather and climate extremes have been varying and changing on many different time scales. In recent decades, heat waves have generally become more frequent across the United States, while cold waves have been decreasing. While this is in keeping with expectations in a warming climate, it turns out that decadal variations in the number of U.S. heat and cold waves do not correlate well with the observed U.S. warming during the last century. Annual peak flow data reveal that river flooding trends on the century scale do not show uniform changes across the country. While flood magnitudes in the Southwest have been decreasing, flood magnitudes in the Northeast and north-central United States have been increasing. Confounding the analysis of trends in river flooding is multiyear and even multidecadal variability likely caused by both large-scale atmospheric circulation changes and basin-scale “memory” in the form of soil moisture. Droughts also have long-term trends as well as multiyear and decadal variability...
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