Robert Vautard1, Andreas Gobiet2, Stefan Sobolowski3, Erik Kjellström4, Annemiek Stegehuis1, Paul Watkiss5, Thomas Mendlik2, Oskar Landgren6, Grigory Nikulin4, Claas Teichmann7,8 and Daniela Jacob7
A global warming of 2 °C relative to pre-industrial climate has been considered as a threshold which society should endeavor to remain below, in order to limit the dangerous effects of anthropogenic climate change. The possible changes in regional climate under this target level of global warming have so far not been investigated in detail. Using an ensemble of 15 regional climate simulations downscaling six transient global climate simulations, we identify the respective time periods corresponding to 2 °C global warming, describe the range of projected changes for the European climate for this level of global warming, and investigate the uncertainty across the multi-model ensemble. Robust changes in mean and extreme temperature, precipitation, winds and surface energy budgets are found based on the ensemble of simulations. The results indicate that most of Europe will experience higher warming than the global average. They also reveal strong distributional patterns across Europe, which will be important in subsequent impact assessments and adaptation responses in different countries and regions. For instance, a North–South (West–East) warming gradient is found for summer (winter) along with a general increase in heavy precipitation and summer extreme temperatures. Tying the ensemble analysis to time periods with a prescribed global temperature change rather than fixed time periods allows for the identification of more robust regional patterns of temperature changes due to removal of some of the uncertainty related to the global models’ climate sensitivity.