The global climate has changed significantly, characterized by the warming of the surface air temperature, which seriously affects public health. We examined the trends of extreme temperatures, heat waves and cold spells in a subtropical city of Guangzhou, China, during 1951–2015. Specifically, the relationship between ENSO (El Niño–Southern Oscillation) events and heat waves/cold spells was discussed. The results of linear regression showed the annual mean temperature and extreme warm days increased (0.14 °C/decade and 6.26 days/decade) while extreme cold days decreased significantly (1.77 days/decade). Heat waves were more frequent, longer lasting and had stronger intensity over the past 65 years. In addition, the frequency, duration and intensity of heat waves were correlated with annual Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) and Indian Ocean Basin-wide Warming (IOBW), while there were no significant differences in the characteristics of heat waves among an El Niño year, a La Niña year and a Neutral year. In contrast, neither significant trend nor association with ENSO events was observed for cold spells. In conclusion, our study indicated an obvious increasing trend for all aspects of heat waves in Guangzhou, China.
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