In May 2014, the Balkans were hit by a Vb-type cyclone that brought disastrous flooding and severe damage to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia. Vb cyclones migrate from the Mediterranean, where they absorb warm and moist air, to the north, often causing flooding in central/eastern Europe. Extreme rainfall events are increasing on a global scale, and both thermodynamic and dynamical mechanisms play a role. Where thermodynamic aspects are generally well understood, there is large uncertainty associated with current and future changes in dynamics.

The recent decade has seen an exceptional number of boreal summer weather extremes, some causing massive damage to society. There is a strong scientific debate about the underlying causes of these events. We show that high-amplitude quasi-stationary Rossby waves, associated with resonance circulation regimes, lead to persistent surface weather conditions and therefore to midlatitude synchronization of extreme heat and rainfall events. Since the onset of rapid Arctic amplification around 2000, a cluster of resonance circulation regimes is observed involving wave numbers 7 and 8.

Climatic warming of about 0.5 ° C in the global mean since the 1970s has strongly increased the occurrence-probability of heat extremes on monthly to seasonal time scales. For the 21st century, climate models predict more substantial warming. Here we show that the multi-model mean of the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project) climate models accurately reproduces the evolution over time and spatial patterns of the historically observed increase in monthly heat extremes.