Does planetary wave resonance cause extreme weather events?

Prof Stefan Rahmstorf


Monday, 7 March, 2016 - 14:00


CCRC Seminar Room, Level 4 Mathews Building


Climate Change Research Centre

Type of event: 


This seminar discusses the role of planetary wave resonance in causing extreme weather events. 

Quasi-stationary planetary waves of large-amplitude have been linked to the occurrence of many of the most extreme weather events of the past decades in the Northern Hemisphere. This includes the European heat waves of 2003 and 2010 as well as the catastrophic Elbe flooding 2002. A resonance mechanism was proposed to explain the occurrence of large-amplitude planetary waves (Petoukhov et al. 2013) and a recent increase in the frequency of resonance events has been identified (Coumou et al. 2014).

Updated analysis of more recent extreme events confirms a tendency to an increase in the frequency of occurrence of quasi-resonant conditions, favoring the emergence of persistent regional extremes in the NH mid-latitudes (Petoukhov et al, submitted).

As a specific example, in May 2014 the Balkans were hit by a Vb-type cyclone that brought disastrous flooding and severe damage to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. This seminar will demonstrate a linkage to planetary wave resonance (Stadtherr et al., in revision). The talk will discuss this and further work on the role of planetary wave resonance in causing extreme weather.