DOI: 10.3390/w15173102 ISSN:

Addressing the Spatiotemporal Patterns of Heatwaves in Portugal with a Validated ERA5-Land Dataset (1980–2021)

Luis Angel Espinosa, Maria Manuela Portela, Laryssa Mariana Moreira Freitas, Salem Gharbia
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry

This study presents a comprehensive analysis of heatwaves in mainland Portugal from 1 October 1980 to 30 September 2021 (41 hydrological years). It addresses a research gap by providing an updated assessment using high-resolution reanalysis daily minimum and maximum temperature data (Tmin and Tmax) from the gridded ERA5-Land dataset, overcoming the lack of publicly available daily temperature records. To assess the representation of the previous dataset, nine different grid-point locations across the country were considered. By comparing monthly ERA5-Land temperature data to ground-based records from the Portuguese Met Office, a monthly validation of the data was conducted for the longest common period, demonstrating good agreement between the two datasets. The heatwave magnitude index (HWMI) was employed to establish the temperature thresholds and thus identify heatwaves (defined as three or more consecutive days above the threshold). With over 640 Tmin heatwave days recorded at each of the nine ERA5-Land grid-points, data analysis revealed a discernible upward trend in Tmin heatwaves. The grid-point situated in the capital city’s urban area, i.e., Lisbon, exhibited the highest number of Tmin heatwave days. With an average of more than 800 Tmax heatwave days over the 41-year period, the northern and interior regions of Portugal had the greatest number of occurrences, reaching up to 916. A kernel rate estimation method was applied to further investigate the annual frequency of Tmin and Tmax heatwave occurrences. Results exhibited clear temperature changes, with a widespread increase in the number of heatwave days over the past two decades, particularly for Tmax. In summary, the occurrence of this phenomenon displayed significant spatial variations, with the southern interior and coastal grid-points experiencing a greater increase in annual Tmax heatwave days, rising from 10 to 30 between 2018 and 2019.

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