This study evaluates projected changes to surface wind characteristics for the 2071–2100 period over North America (NA), using four Global Environmental Multiscale regional climate model simulations, driven by two global climate models (GCMs) for two Representative Concentration Pathway scenarios. For the current climate, the model simulates well the climatology of mean sea level pressure (MSLP) and associated wind direction over NA. Future simulations suggest increases in mean wind speed for northern and eastern parts of Canada, associated with decreases in future MSLP, which results in more intense low-pressure systems situated in those regions such as the Aleutian and Icelandic Lows. Projected changes to annual maximum 3-hourly wind speed show more spatial variability compared to seasonal and annual mean wind speed, indicating that extreme wind speeds are influenced by regional level features associated with instantaneous surface temperature and air pressure gradients. The simulations also suggest some increases in the future 50-year return levels of 3-hourly wind speed and hourly wind gusts, mainly due to increases in the inter-annual variability of annual maximum values. The variability of projected changes to both extreme wind speed and gusts indicate the need for a larger set of projections, including those from other regional models driven by many GCMs to better quantify uncertainties in future wind extremes and their characteristics.
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