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Geological and Atmospheric Sciences

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Published Version

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Climate Dynamics





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The objective of this paper is to review statistical methods, dynamics, modeling efforts, and trends related to temperature extremes, with a focus upon extreme events of short duration that affect parts of North America. These events are associated with large scale meteorological patterns (LSMPs). The statistics, dynamics, and modeling sections of this paper are written to be autonomous and so can be read separately. Methods to define extreme events statistics and to identify and connect LSMPs to extreme temperature events are presented. Recent advances in statistical techniques connect LSMPs to extreme temperatures through appropriately defined covariates that supplement more straightforward analyses. Various LSMPs, ranging from synoptic to planetary scale structures, are associated with extreme temperature events. Current knowledge about the synoptics and the dynamical mechanisms leading to the associated LSMPs is incomplete. Systematic studies of: the physics of LSMP life cycles, comprehensive model assessment of LSMP-extreme temperature event linkages,and LSMP properties are needed. Generally, climate models capture observed properties of heat waves and cold air outbreaks with some fidelity. However they overestimate warm wave frequency and underestimate cold air outbreak frequency, and underestimate the collective influence of low-frequency modes on temperature extremes. Modeling studies have identified the impact of large-scale circulation anomalies and land–atmosphere interactions on changes in extreme temperatures. However, few studies have examined changes in LSMPs to more specifically understand the role of LSMPs on past and future extreme temperature changes. Even though LSMPs are resolvable by global and regional climate models, they are not necessarily well simulated. The paper concludes with unresolved issues and research questions.


This article is published as Grotjahn, Richard, Robert Black, Ruby Leung, Michael F. Wehner, Mathew Barlow, Mike Bosilovich, Alexander Gershunov et al. "North American extreme temperature events and related large scale meteorological patterns: a review of statistical methods, dynamics, modeling, and trends." Climate Dynamics 46, no. 3-4 (2016): 1151-1184. doi: 10.1007/s00382-015-2638-6. Posted with permission.


Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.



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