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1.5°, 2°, and 3° global warming: visualizing European regions affected by multiple changes

Susanne Pfeifer, Diana Rechid, Maximilian Reuter, Elisabeth Viktor, Daniela Jacob
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.6 pp. 1777-1786
at-risk population, climate, color, global warming, heat stress, mixing, population density, summer, temperature, Europe, Mediterranean region, Southern European region
Assessing multiple climatic and non-climatic variables affecting one region at the same time is a crucial aspect to support climate adaptation action. This publication presents a method to display relevant measures of any three adaptation relevant parameters (or optionally their projected future changes) at once on a map by allocating them to multiple transparency levels of the three primary colors of additive color mixing (red, green, and blue). The overlay of information allows the combined assessment of the regional exposures. The method is demonstrated by two examples based on an ensemble of regional climate projections analyzed for 1.5 °C, 2 °C, and 3 °C global warming periods. The first example shows the increasing number of people at risk for summer climate extremes under 1.5 °C, 2 °C, and 3 °C global warming by combining projected increases in tropical nights and summer intense precipitation days with today’s population density. Under 3 °C global warming, many heavily populated areas across Europe are affected by both heat stress and summer precipitation extremes, whereas under 1.5 °C global warming, heat stress regions are restricted to southern Europe and the large settlements along the Eastern Mediterranean coast. A second example combines daily mean and minimum and maximum summer temperatures and highlights the regional expansion and the increasing robustness of projected mean summer warming with rising global warming levels, as well as the regional day to night differences of the warming signal.