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Anja T. Rädler, Pieter Groenemeijer, Eberhard Faust, and Robert Sausen

Abstract

A statistical model for the occurrence of convective hazards was developed and applied to reanalysis data to detect multidecadal trends in hazard frequency. The modeling framework is based on an additive logistic regression for observed hazards that exploits predictors derived from numerical model data. The regression predicts the probability of a severe hazard, which is considered as a product of two components: the probability that a storm occurs and the probability of the severe hazard, given the presence of a storm [P(severe) = P(storm) × P(severe|storm)]. The model was developed using lightning data as an indication of thunderstorm occurrence and hazard reports across central Europe. Although it uses only two predictors per component, it is capable of reproducing the observed spatial distribution of lightning and yields realistic annual cycles of lightning, hail, and wind fairly accurately. The model was applied to ERA-Interim (1979–2016) across Europe to detect any changes in lightning, hail, and wind hazard occurrence. The frequency of conditions favoring lightning, wind, and large hail has increased across large parts of Europe, with the exception of the southwest. The resulting predicted occurrence of 6-hourly periods with lightning, wind, and large hail has increased by 16%, 29%, and 41%, respectively, across western and central Europe and by 23%, 56%, and 86% across Germany and the Alps during the period considered. It is shown that these changes are caused by increased instability in the reanalysis rather than by changes in midtropospheric moisture or wind shear.

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Tomáš Púčik, Christopher Castellano, Pieter Groenemeijer, Thilo Kühne, Anja T. Rädler, Bogdan Antonescu, and Eberhard Faust

Abstract

By 31 December 2018, 39 537 quality-controlled reports of large hail had been submitted to the European Severe Weather Database (ESWD) by volunteers and ESSL. This dataset and the NatCatSERVICE Database of Munich RE jointly allowed us to study the hail hazard and its impacts across Europe over a period spanning multiple decades. We present a spatiotemporal climatology of the ESWD reports, diurnal and annual cycles of large hail, and indicate where and how they may be affected by reporting biases across Europe. We also discuss which hailstorms caused the most injuries and present the only case with hail fatalities in recent times. Additionally, we address our findings on the relation between hail size to the type of impacts that were reported. For instance, the probability of reported hail damage to roofs, windows, and vehicles strongly increases as hail size exceeds 5 cm, while damage to crops, trees, and greenhouses is typically reported with hailstone diameters of 2–3 cm. Injuries to humans are usually reported with hail 4 cm in diameter and larger, and number of injuries increases with increasing hail size. Using the NatCatSERVICE data, we studied economic losses associated with hailstorms occurring in central Europe and looked for long-term changes. The trend in hail losses and the annual number of hail loss days since 1990 to 2018 are compared to that of meteorological conditions favorable for large hail as identified by ESSL’s Additive Regression Convective Hazards model. Both hail loss days and favorable environments show an upward trend, in particular since 2000.

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Tomáš Púčik, Pieter Groenemeijer, Anja T. Rädler, Lars Tijssen, Grigory Nikulin, Andreas F. Prein, Erik van Meijgaard, Rowan Fealy, Daniela Jacob, and Claas Teichmann

Abstract

The occurrence of environmental conditions favorable for severe convective storms was assessed in an ensemble of 14 regional climate models covering Europe and the Mediterranean with a horizontal grid spacing of 0.44°. These conditions included the collocated presence of latent instability and strong deep-layer (surface to 500 hPa) wind shear, which is conducive to the severe and well-organized convective storms. The occurrence of precipitation in the models was used as a proxy for convective initiation. Two climate scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) were investigated by comparing two future periods (2021–50 and 2071–2100) to a historical period (1971–2000) for each of these scenarios. The ensemble simulates a robust increase (change larger than twice the ensemble sample standard deviation) in the frequency of occurrence of unstable environments (lifted index ≤ −2) across central and south-central Europe in the RCP8.5 scenario in the late twenty-first century. This increase coincides with the increase in lower-tropospheric moisture. Smaller, less robust changes were found until midcentury in the RCP8.5 scenario and in the RCP4.5 scenario. Changes in the frequency of situations with strong (≥15 m s−1) deep-layer shear were found to be small and not robust, except across far northern Europe, where a decrease in shear is projected. By the end of the century, the simultaneous occurrence of latent instability, strong deep-layer shear, and model precipitation is simulated to increase by up to 100% across central and eastern Europe in the RCP8.5 and by 30%–50% in the RCP4.5 scenario. Until midcentury, increases in the 10%–25% range are forecast for most regions. A large intermodel variability is present in the ensemble and is primarily due to the uncertainties in the frequency of the occurrence of unstable environments.

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