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Increasing temperature extremes in New Zealand and their connection to synoptic circulation features

Extreme temperature events (ETEs) have evolved alongside the warming climate over most parts of the world. This study provides a statistical quantification of how human influences have changed the frequencies of extreme temperatures in New Zealand, depending on the synoptic weather types. We use the ensembles under pre-industrial conditions (natural scenarios with no human-induced changes) and present-day conditions (anthropogenic scenarios) from the weather@home regional climate model. The ensemble simulations under these two scenarios are used to identify how human influences have impacted the frequency and intensity of extreme temperatures based on their connection to different large-scale circulation patterns derived using selforganizing maps (SOMs).

Over New Zealand, an average two to three fold rise in frequencies of extremes occurs irrespective of seasons due to anthropogenic influence with a mean temperature increase close to 1C. For some synoptic situations, the frequency of extremes are especially enhanced; in particular, for low-pressure centres to the northeast of New Zealand where the frequency of occurrence of daily temperature extremes has increased by a factor of 7 between anthropogenic and natural ensembles for the winter season, though these synoptic patterns rarely occur. For low-pressure centres to the northwest of New Zealand, we observe high temperatures frequently in both anthropogenic and natural ensembles which we expect is probably associated with warm air advection from the Tropics. The frequency of occurrence of high temperatures in these synoptic patterns has also increased by a factor of 2 between the natural and anthropogenic ensembles. For these synoptic states, the extremes are observed in the North Island and along the east coast of the country with the highest temperature along the Canterbury coast and Northland. The change between the natural and anthropogenic ensembles is largest on the west coast along the Southern Alps for all the synoptic circulation types.