Record-breaking temperatures reveal a warming climate
Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of Cologne - 50937 Köln, Germany, EU
Accepted: 25 October 2010
We present a mathematical analysis of records drawn from independent random variables with a drifting mean. To leading order the change in the record rate is proportional to the ratio of the drift velocity to the standard deviation of the underlying distribution. We apply the theory to time series of daily temperatures for given calendar days, obtained from historical climate recordings of European and American weather stations as well as re-analysis data. We conclude that the change in the mean temperature has increased the rate of record-breaking events in a moderate but significant way: for the European station data covering the time period 1976–2005, we find that about 5 of the 17 high temperature records observed on average in 2005 can be attributed to the warming climate.
PACS: 05.40.-a – Fluctuation phenomena, random processes, noise, and Brownian motion / 92.60.Ry – Climatology, climate change and variability / 02.50.Ey – Stochastic processes
© EPLA, 2010