In an interconnected world, simultaneous extreme weather events in distant regions could potentially impose high-end risks for societies1,2. In the mid-latitudes, circumglobal Rossby waves are associated with a strongly meandering jet stream and might cause simultaneous heatwaves and floods across the northern hemisphere3,4,5,6. For example, in the summer of 2018, several heat and rainfall extremes occurred near-simultaneously7. Here we show that Rossby waves with wavenumbers 5 and 7 have a preferred phase position and constitute recurrent atmospheric circulation patterns in summer. Those patterns can induce simultaneous heat extremes in specific regions: Central North America, Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia for wave 5, and Western Central North America, Western Europe and Western Asia for wave 7. The probability of simultaneous heat extremes in these regions increases by a factor of up to 20 for the most severe heat events when either of these two waves dominate the circulation. Two or more weeks per summer spent in the wave-5 or wave-7 regime are associated with 4% reductions in crop production when averaged across the affected regions, with regional decreases of up to 11%. As these regions are important for global food production, the identified teleconnections have the potential to fuel multiple harvest failures, posing risks to global food security8.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $17.75 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The data used in this study can be obtained via the NCEP-NCAR website (https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/gridded/data.ncep.reanalysis.html) and the FAOSTAT database of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QC).
The codes used are available on request.
Sarhadi, A., Ausín, M. C., Wiper, M. P., Touma, D. & Diffenbaugh, N. S. Multidimensional risk in a nonstationary climate: joint probability of increasingly severe warm and dry conditions. Sci. Adv. 4, eaau3487 (2018).
Zscheischler, J. & Seneviratne, S. I. Dependence of drivers affects risks associated with compound events. Sci. Adv. 3, e1700263 (2017).
Teng, H., Branstator, G., Wang, H., Meehl, G. A. & Washington, W. M. Probability of US heat waves affected by a subseasonal planetary wave pattern. Nat. Geosci. 6, 1056–1061 (2013).
Schubert, S. D., Wang, H., Koster, R. D., Suarez, M. J. & Groisman, P. Y. Northern Eurasian heat waves and droughts. J. Clim. 27, 3169–3207 (2014).
Kornhuber, K., Petoukhov, V., Petri, S., Rahmstorf, S. & Coumou, D. Evidence for wave resonance as a key mechanism for generating high-amplitude quasi-stationary waves in boreal summer. Clim. Dynam. 49, 1961–1979 (2017).
Coumou, D., Petoukhov, V., Rahmstorf, S., Petri, S. & Schellnhuber, H. J. Quasi-resonant circulation regimes and hemispheric synchronization of extreme weather in boreal summer. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 12331–12336 (2014).
Kornhuber, K. et al. Extreme weather events in early summer 2018 connected by a recurrent hemispheric wave-7 pattern. Environ. Res. Lett. 14, 054002 (2019).
Puma, M. J., Bose, S., Chon, S. Y. & Cook, B. I. Assessing the evolving fragility of the global food system. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 024007 (2015).
Schär, C. et al. The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heatwaves. Nature 427, 3926–3928 (2004).
Lehmann, J., Coumou, D. & Frieler, K. Increased record-breaking precipitation events under global warming. Climatic Change 132, 501–515 (2015).
Levermann, A. Make supply chains climate-smart. Nature 506, 27–29 (2013).
Branstator, G. Circumglobal teleconnections, the jet stream waveguide and the North Atlantic oscillation. J. Clim. 15, 1893–1910 (2002).
Lau, K.-M. & Weng, H. Recurrent teleconnection patterns linking summertime precipitation variability over East Asia and North America. J. Meteorol. Soc. Jpn 80, 1309–1324 (2002).
Petoukhov, V., Rahmstorf, S., Petri, S. & Schellnhuber, H. J. Quasiresonant amplification of planetary waves and recent northern hemisphere weather extremes. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110, 5336–5341 (2013).
Screen, J. A. & Simmonds, I. Amplified mid-latitude planetary waves favour particular regional weather extremes. Nat. Clim. Change 4, 704–709 (2014).
Kornhuber, K. et al. Summertime planetary wave-resonance in the northern and southern hemisphere. J. Clim. 30, 6133–6150 (2017).
Ding, Q. & Wang, B. Circumglobal teleconnection in the northern hemisphere summer. J. Clim. 18, 3483–3505 (2005).
Donges, J., Schleussner, C. F., Siegmund, J. F. & Donner, R. V. Event coincidence analysis for quantifying statistical interrelationships between event time series. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 225, 471–487 (2016).
Lesk, C., Rowhani, P. & Ramankutty, N. Influence of extreme weather disasters on global crop production. Nature 529, 84–87 (2016).
White, R. H., Battisti, D. S. & Roe, G. H. Mongolian mountains matter most: impacts of the latitude and height of Asian orography on Pacific wintertime atmospheric circulation. J. Clim. 30, 4065–4082 (2017).
Petoukhov, V. et al. The role of quasi-resonant planetary wave dynamics in recent boreal spring-to-autumn extreme events. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 113, 6862–6867 (2016).
Lee, M. H., Lee, S., Song, H. J. & Ho, C. H. The recent increase in the occurrence of a boreal summer teleconnection and its relationship with temperature extremes. J. Clim. 30, 7493–7504 (2017).
Mann, M. E. et al. Projected changes in persistent extreme summer weather events: the role of quasi-resonant amplification. Sci. Adv. 4, eaat3272 (2018).
Schauberger, B. et al. Consistent negative response of US crops to high temperatures in observations and crop models. Nat. Commun. 8, 13931 (2017).
Ray, D. K., Ramankutty, N., Mueller, N. D., West, P. C. & Foley, J. A. Recent patterns of crop yield growth and stagnation. Nat. Commun. 3, 1293–1297 (2012).
Bren d’Amour, C., Wenz, L., Kalkuhl, M., Christoph Steckel, J. & Creutzig, F. Teleconnected food supply shocks. Environ. Res. Lett. 11, 035007 (2016).
Schewe, J., Otto, C. & Frieler, K. The role of storage dynamics in annual wheat prices. Environ. Res. Lett. 12, 054005 (2017).
Kalnay et al. The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 77, 437–470 (1996).
Siegmund, N. CoinCalc—a new R package for quantifying simultaneities of event series. Comput. Geosci. 98, 64–72 (2017).
We thank the federal state of Brandenburg for the use of high-performance computing resources. This work was supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and NERC grant nos NE/P006779/1 and NE/N018001/1 (K.K.), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; J.L. and D.C.), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO; D.C.), the Leibniz Association project DominoES (J.F.D.) and the European Research Council Advanced Grant project ERA (J.F.D.).
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Justin Mankin, Rachel White and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Kornhuber, K., Coumou, D., Vogel, E. et al. Amplified Rossby waves enhance risk of concurrent heatwaves in major breadbasket regions. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 48–53 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-019-0637-z
Nature Climate Change (2019)