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Sang-Min Lee and Seung-Ki Min


This study provides a first quantification of possible benefits of global warming mitigation through heat stress reduction over East Asia by comparing projection results between low-emission and high-emission scenarios, as well as between 1.5° and 2.0°C target temperature conditions. Future changes in summer heat stress over East Asia were examined based on the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) using CMIP5 multimodel simulations. Changes in the intensity, frequency, and duration of heat stress were analyzed in terms of area fraction across RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5 scenarios and also between two selected model groups representing 1.5°- and 2.0°C-warmer worlds. Severe heat stress, exceeding the 50-yr return value of the present-day period, is expected to become very frequent, occurring every second year over the large part of East Asia by the 2040s, irrespective of RCP scenarios. The frequency of extreme daily heat stress events is predicted to increase in a similar speed of expansion, with signals emerging from the low latitudes. The WBGT signal emergence is found to be much faster than that of corresponding temperature alone due to the smaller variability in WBGT, supporting previous findings. The 1.5°C-warmer world would have about 20% reduction in areas experiencing severe heat stress over East Asia, compared to the 2.0°C-warmer world, with significant changes identified over the low latitudes. Further, compared to the transient world, the equilibrium world exhibits larger increases in heat stress over East Asia, likely due to the warmer ocean surface in the northwestern North Pacific. This suggests an important role of ocean warming patterns in the regional assessment of global warming mitigation.

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Sang-Min Lee, Hi-Ryong Byun, and Hiroshi L. Tanaka


The drought climate of Japan from 1902 to 2009 was analyzed using an effective drought index (EDI). Drought regions were identified by hierarchical cluster analysis using drought characteristics (duration, severity, and onset and end dates) obtained from 50 observation stations. The results indicated that droughts could be divided into four groups (G1–G4) that reflected the local climate. The four groups were related to precipitation as follows. The summer rainy season affected groups G2–G4, in which droughts occurred mainly during spring and summer and were relieved before and after the rainy season. The G1 group was not affected by the summer rainy season and droughts were spread evenly throughout the year; it even had cases of droughts relieved by winter snow. All groups included dry conditions over the 108-yr period, and the driest conditions occurred in the late twentieth century. The statistical analysis of drought data showed that a total of 23 country-wide droughts occurred and that the most extreme droughts occurred in 1939–41 and 1984–85, with an EDI of −1.55. In addition, four dry seasons (1939–45, 1997–98, 1994–97, and 2005–09) were found using regime shift analysis. Regional droughts occurred 54, 54, 49, and 59 times in groups G1–G4, respectively. On average, short-term droughts with a duration shorter than 6 months occurred 3.5 times per decade, whereas long-term droughts extending over 1 yr occurred 0.3 times per decade. The drought duration and intensity were used to calculate the statistical return period of country-wide droughts. The 1939–41 drought had the longest return period, at 104.7 yr. The 1987–88 and 1995–97 droughts had return periods of 65.9 and 65.5 yr, respectively.

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Seung-Ki Min, Yeon-Hee Kim, Sang-Min Lee, Sarah Sparrow, Sihan Li, Fraser C. Lott, and Peter A. Stott
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Donghyuck Yoon, Dong-Hyun Cha, Myong-In Lee, Ki-Hong Min, Sang-Yoon Jun, and Yonghan Choi


South Korea’s heat wave events over 39 years (1980–2018) were defined by spatiotemporal criteria, and their quantitative characteristics were analyzed. The duration and intensity of these events ranked highest in 2016 and 2018. An examination of synoptic conditions of heat wave events in 2016 and 2018 based on a reanalysis dataset revealed a positive anomaly of 500-hPa geopotential height, which could have induced warm conditions over the Korean Peninsula in both years. However, a difference prevailed in that there was a blocking high over the Kamchatka Peninsula and a continental thermal high over northern China in 2016, while the expansion of the western North Pacific subtropical high was mainly associated with 2018 heat wave events. Numerical experiments using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model were conducted to 1) evaluate how distinct meteorological characteristics of heat wave events in 2016 and 2018 were reproduced by the model, and 2) investigate how they affect extreme temperature events. Typical synoptic features of the 2016 heat wave events (i.e., Kamchatka blocking and continental thermal high) were not captured well by the WRF Model, while those of 2018 were reasonably reproduced. On the contrary, the heat wave event during late August 2016 related to the Kamchatka blocking high was realistically simulated when the blocking was artificially sustained by applying spectral nudging. In conclusion, the existence of a blocking high over the Kamchatka region (i.e., northern Pacific region) is an important feature to accurately predict long-lasting heat waves in East Asia.

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Evan Weller, Seung-Ki Min, Donghyun Lee, Jong-Seong Kug, Wenju Cai, and Sang-Wook Yeh
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