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Title: Projected drought risk in 1.5°C and 2°C warmer climates

Abstract

The large socioeconomic costs of droughts make them a crucial target for impact assessments of climate change scenarios. Using multiple drought metrics and a set of simulations with the Community Earth System Model targeting 1.5°C and 2°C above preindustrial global mean temperatures, we investigate changes in aridity and the risk of consecutive drought years. If warming is limited to 2°C, these simulations suggest little change in drought risk for the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains compared to present day. In the Mediterranean and central Europe, however, drought risk increases significantly for both 1.5°C and 2°C warming targets, and the additional 0.5°C of the 2°C climate leads to significantly higher drought risk. Our study suggests that limiting anthropogenic warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C, as aspired to by the Paris Climate Agreement, may have benefits for future drought risk but that such benefits may be regional and in some cases highly uncertain.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4]
  1. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO (United States). Research Applications Lab.
  2. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO (United States). Climate and Global Dynamics Lab.
  3. Univ. of Bern (Switzerland). Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research and Dept. of Climate and Environmental Physics
  4. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States). Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23). Climate and Environmental Sciences Division; National Science Foundation (NSF); US Dept. of the Interior (DOI), Bureau of Reclamation (USBR); Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
Contributing Org.:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Boulder, CO (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
1473891
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1375068
Grant/Contract Number:  
FC02‐97ER62402; AGS‐1243204; AGS‐1401400; AGS 1243125
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 44; Journal Issue: 14; Journal ID: ISSN 0094-8276
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; drought; drought risk; climate modeling; projections; climate targets; mitigation

Citation Formats

Lehner, Flavio, Coats, Sloan, Stocker, Thomas F., Pendergrass, Angeline G., Sanderson, Benjamin M., Raible, Christoph C., and Smerdon, Jason E. Projected drought risk in 1.5°C and 2°C warmer climates. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/2017GL074117.
Lehner, Flavio, Coats, Sloan, Stocker, Thomas F., Pendergrass, Angeline G., Sanderson, Benjamin M., Raible, Christoph C., & Smerdon, Jason E. Projected drought risk in 1.5°C and 2°C warmer climates. United States. doi:10.1002/2017GL074117.
Lehner, Flavio, Coats, Sloan, Stocker, Thomas F., Pendergrass, Angeline G., Sanderson, Benjamin M., Raible, Christoph C., and Smerdon, Jason E. Fri . "Projected drought risk in 1.5°C and 2°C warmer climates". United States. doi:10.1002/2017GL074117. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1473891.
@article{osti_1473891,
title = {Projected drought risk in 1.5°C and 2°C warmer climates},
author = {Lehner, Flavio and Coats, Sloan and Stocker, Thomas F. and Pendergrass, Angeline G. and Sanderson, Benjamin M. and Raible, Christoph C. and Smerdon, Jason E.},
abstractNote = {The large socioeconomic costs of droughts make them a crucial target for impact assessments of climate change scenarios. Using multiple drought metrics and a set of simulations with the Community Earth System Model targeting 1.5°C and 2°C above preindustrial global mean temperatures, we investigate changes in aridity and the risk of consecutive drought years. If warming is limited to 2°C, these simulations suggest little change in drought risk for the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains compared to present day. In the Mediterranean and central Europe, however, drought risk increases significantly for both 1.5°C and 2°C warming targets, and the additional 0.5°C of the 2°C climate leads to significantly higher drought risk. Our study suggests that limiting anthropogenic warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C, as aspired to by the Paris Climate Agreement, may have benefits for future drought risk but that such benefits may be regional and in some cases highly uncertain.},
doi = {10.1002/2017GL074117},
journal = {Geophysical Research Letters},
number = 14,
volume = 44,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Jul 07 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Fri Jul 07 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

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