Global hotspots for the occurrence of compound events.

Ridder, N.N., A.J. Pitman, S. Westra, A. Ukkola, H.X. Do, M. Bador, A.L. Hirsch, J.P. Evans, A. di Luca and J.Zscheischler
Nature Communications, 11(1), 5956, doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19639-3, 2020.


Compound events (CEs) are weather and climate events that result from multiple hazards or drivers with the potential to cause severe socio-economic impacts. Compared with isolated hazards, the multiple hazards/drivers associated with CEs can lead to higher economic losses and death tolls. Here, we provide the first analysis of multiple multivariate CEs potentially causing high-impact floods, droughts, and fires. Using observations and reanalysis data during 1980–2014, we analyse 27 hazard pairs and provide the first spatial estimates of their occurrences on the global scale. We identify hotspots of multivariate CEs including many socio-economically important regions such as North America, Russia and western Europe. We analyse the relative importance of different multivariate CEs in six continental regions to highlight CEs posing the highest risk. Our results provide initial guidance to assess the regional risk of CE events and an observationally-based dataset to aid evaluation of climate models for simulating multivariate CEs.

Key Figure

Figure 4. Seasonality of the most dominant multivariate CEs per region. Values are relative to the total number of events in the month with the most occurrences. CEs are grouped into those containing a precipitation-related combinations, including the hazards high precipitation (highP), high probability of large hail (hail), strong winds (wind), high streamflow (highQ), and low SPI (drought); and b temperature and precipitation-related hazard pairs consisting of high temperatures (T), low precipitation (lowP), heatwaves (HW), meteorological drought (drought), and extreme McArthur forest fire index values (FFDI).

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