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Title: Global warming precipitation accumulation increases above the current-climate cutoff scale

Abstract

Precipitation accumulations, integrated over rainfall events, can be affected by both intensity and duration of the storm event. Thus, although precipitation intensity is widely projected to increase under global warming, a clear framework for predicting accumulation changes has been lacking, despite the importance of accumulations for societal impacts. Theory for changes in the probability density function (pdf) of precipitation accumulations is presented with an evaluation of these changes in global climate model simulations. We show that a simple set of conditions implies roughly exponential increases in the frequency of the very largest accumulations above a physical cutoff scale, increasing with event size. The pdf exhibits an approximately power-law range where probability density drops slowly with each order of magnitude size increase, up to a cutoff at large accumulations that limits the largest events experienced in current climate. The theory predicts that the cutoff scale, controlled by the interplay of moisture convergence variance and precipitation loss, tends to increase under global warming. Thus, precisely the large accumulations above the cutoff that are currently rare will exhibit increases in the warmer climate as this cutoff is extended. This indeed occurs in the full climate model, with a 3 °C end-of-century global-average warmingmore » yielding regional increases of hundreds of percent to >1,000% in the probability density of the largest accumulations that have historical precedents. The probabilities of unprecedented accumulations are also consistent with the extension of the cutoff.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [2];  [1]
  1. Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States). Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
  2. Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (United States). Dept. of Mathematics. Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States); Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); National Science Foundation (NSF); National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (United States); Office of Naval Research (ONR) (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
1341226
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1427572
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0006739; AGS-1102838; AGS-1540518; NA14OAR4310274; N00014-12-1-0744
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 114; Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Publisher:
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; precipitation accumulation; global warming; extreme events; stochastic modeling; first-passage process

Citation Formats

Neelin, J. David, Sahany, Sandeep, Stechmann, Samuel N., and Bernstein, Diana N. Global warming precipitation accumulation increases above the current-climate cutoff scale. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.1615333114.
Neelin, J. David, Sahany, Sandeep, Stechmann, Samuel N., & Bernstein, Diana N. Global warming precipitation accumulation increases above the current-climate cutoff scale. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1615333114.
Neelin, J. David, Sahany, Sandeep, Stechmann, Samuel N., and Bernstein, Diana N. Mon . "Global warming precipitation accumulation increases above the current-climate cutoff scale". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1615333114.
@article{osti_1341226,
title = {Global warming precipitation accumulation increases above the current-climate cutoff scale},
author = {Neelin, J. David and Sahany, Sandeep and Stechmann, Samuel N. and Bernstein, Diana N.},
abstractNote = {Precipitation accumulations, integrated over rainfall events, can be affected by both intensity and duration of the storm event. Thus, although precipitation intensity is widely projected to increase under global warming, a clear framework for predicting accumulation changes has been lacking, despite the importance of accumulations for societal impacts. Theory for changes in the probability density function (pdf) of precipitation accumulations is presented with an evaluation of these changes in global climate model simulations. We show that a simple set of conditions implies roughly exponential increases in the frequency of the very largest accumulations above a physical cutoff scale, increasing with event size. The pdf exhibits an approximately power-law range where probability density drops slowly with each order of magnitude size increase, up to a cutoff at large accumulations that limits the largest events experienced in current climate. The theory predicts that the cutoff scale, controlled by the interplay of moisture convergence variance and precipitation loss, tends to increase under global warming. Thus, precisely the large accumulations above the cutoff that are currently rare will exhibit increases in the warmer climate as this cutoff is extended. This indeed occurs in the full climate model, with a 3 °C end-of-century global-average warming yielding regional increases of hundreds of percent to >1,000% in the probability density of the largest accumulations that have historical precedents. The probabilities of unprecedented accumulations are also consistent with the extension of the cutoff.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1615333114},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
number = 6,
volume = 114,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Jan 23 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Mon Jan 23 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1073/pnas.1615333114

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 6 works
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