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Title: Precipitation variability increases in a warmer climate

Abstract

Understanding changes in precipitation variability is essential for a complete explanation of the hydrologic cycle’s response to warming and its impacts. While changes in mean and extreme precipitation have been studied intensively, precipitation variability has received less attention, despite its theoretical and practical importance. Here, we show that precipitation variability in most climate models increases over a majority of global land area in response to warming (66% of land has a robust increase in variability of seasonal-mean precipitation). Comparing recent decades to RCP8.5 projections for the end of the 21st century, we find that in the global, multi-model mean, precipitation variability increases 3–4% K –1 globally, 4–5% K –1 over land and 2–4% K –1 over ocean, and is remarkably robust on a range of timescales from daily to decadal. Precipitation variability increases by at least as much as mean precipitation and less than moisture and extreme precipitation for most models, regions, and timescales. We interpret this as being related to an increase in moisture which is partially mitigated by weakening circulation. In conclusion, we show that changes in observed daily variability in station data are consistent with increased variability.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
  2. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States); ETH Zurich, Zurich (Switzerland)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. Corp. for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1500119
Grant/Contract Number:  
FC02-97ER62402
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Pendergrass, Angeline G., Knutti, Reto, Lehner, Flavio, Deser, Clara, and Sanderson, Benjamin M. Precipitation variability increases in a warmer climate. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-17966-y.
Pendergrass, Angeline G., Knutti, Reto, Lehner, Flavio, Deser, Clara, & Sanderson, Benjamin M. Precipitation variability increases in a warmer climate. United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-17966-y.
Pendergrass, Angeline G., Knutti, Reto, Lehner, Flavio, Deser, Clara, and Sanderson, Benjamin M. Thu . "Precipitation variability increases in a warmer climate". United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-17966-y. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1500119.
@article{osti_1500119,
title = {Precipitation variability increases in a warmer climate},
author = {Pendergrass, Angeline G. and Knutti, Reto and Lehner, Flavio and Deser, Clara and Sanderson, Benjamin M.},
abstractNote = {Understanding changes in precipitation variability is essential for a complete explanation of the hydrologic cycle’s response to warming and its impacts. While changes in mean and extreme precipitation have been studied intensively, precipitation variability has received less attention, despite its theoretical and practical importance. Here, we show that precipitation variability in most climate models increases over a majority of global land area in response to warming (66% of land has a robust increase in variability of seasonal-mean precipitation). Comparing recent decades to RCP8.5 projections for the end of the 21st century, we find that in the global, multi-model mean, precipitation variability increases 3–4% K–1 globally, 4–5% K–1 over land and 2–4% K–1 over ocean, and is remarkably robust on a range of timescales from daily to decadal. Precipitation variability increases by at least as much as mean precipitation and less than moisture and extreme precipitation for most models, regions, and timescales. We interpret this as being related to an increase in moisture which is partially mitigated by weakening circulation. In conclusion, we show that changes in observed daily variability in station data are consistent with increased variability.},
doi = {10.1038/s41598-017-17966-y},
journal = {Scientific Reports},
issn = {2045-2322},
number = 1,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {12}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 42 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Figures / Tables:

Figure 1 Figure 1: Spatially aggregated precipitation variability change. Land area fraction experiencing a given change in the interannual standard deviation of seasonal-mean precipitation over extra-tropical land in (a) summer and (b) winter, and tropical land in (c) JJA and (d) DJF at individual grid points from 1976–2005 to 2071–2100 forced bymore » the RCP8.5 scenario, and changes expected from natural variability sampled as differences between randomly-drawn members of the CESM1 single-model ensemble for 1976–2005 (grey shading). Shading indicates the 5–95% confidence interval.« less

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    Works referencing / citing this record:

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    journal, October 2011

    • Zhang, Xuebin; Alexander, Lisa; Hegerl, Gabriele C.
    • Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Vol. 2, Issue 6
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      Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.