We employ a suite of regional climate models (RCMs) to assess future changes in summer (JJA) maximum temperature (Tmax) over the Ebro basin, the largest hydrological division in the Iberian Peninsula. Under the A1B emission scenario, future changes in both mean values and their corresponding time varying percentiles were examined by comparing the control period (1971–2000) with two future time slices: 2021–2050 and 2071–2100. Here, the rationale is to assess how lower/upper tails of temperature distributions will change in the future and whether these changes will be consistent with those of the mean. The model validation results demonstrate significant differences among the models in terms of their capability to representing the statistical characteristics (e.g., mean, skewness and asymmetry) of the observed climate. The results also indicate that the current substantial warming observed in the Ebro basin is expected to continue during the 21st century, with more intense warming occurring at higher altitudes and in areas with greater distance from coastlines. All models suggest that the region will experience significant positive changes in both the cold and warm tails of temperature distributions. However, the results emphasize that future changes in the lower and upper tails of the summer Tmax distribution may not follow the same warming rate as the mean condition. In particular, the projected changes in the warm tail of the summer Tmax are shown to be significantly larger than changes in both mean values and the cold tail, especially at the end of the 21st century. The finding suggests that much of the changes in the summer Tmax percentiles will be driven by a shift in the entire distribution of temperature rather than only changes in the central tendency. Better understanding of the possible implications of future climate systems provides information useful for vulnerability assessments and the development of local adaptation strategies for multi-disciplinary investigations.
Climate modelsENSEMBLESTrendsTemperature percentilesMaximum temperatureThe Ebro Valley