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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:
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},
number = 1,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {12}
}

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Cited by: 68 works
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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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    Change in climate variability in the 21st century
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    • DOI: 10.1007/bf00140173

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    journal, January 2005


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    journal, April 2010


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    journal, August 2013

    • Chung, Christine T. Y.; Power, Scott B.; Arblaster, Julie M.
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    • DOI: 10.1007/s00382-013-1892-8

    Future risk of record-breaking summer temperatures and its mitigation
    journal, February 2016


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    journal, May 2010


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    • DOI: 10.1038/nature12310

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    • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2051

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    • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2571

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    Emergence of multiple ocean ecosystem drivers in a large ensemble suite with an Earth system model
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    • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 46, Issue 5
    • DOI: 10.1029/2018gl080768

    Can We Constrain Uncertainty in Hydrologic Cycle Projections?
    journal, April 2019

    • Prein, Andreas F.; Pendergrass, Angeline G.
    • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 46, Issue 7
    • DOI: 10.1029/2018gl081529

    Warming Alters Hydrologic Heterogeneity: Simulated Climate Sensitivity of Hydrology‐Based Microrefugia in the Snow‐to‐Rain Transition Zone
    journal, March 2019

    • Marshall, A. M.; Link, T. E.; Abatzoglou, J. T.
    • Water Resources Research, Vol. 55, Issue 3
    • DOI: 10.1029/2018wr023063

    Observed Impacts of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Wildfire in California
    journal, August 2019

    • Williams, A. Park; Abatzoglou, John T.; Gershunov, Alexander
    • Earth's Future, Vol. 7, Issue 8
    • DOI: 10.1029/2019ef001210

    Toward a Resilient Global Society: Air, Sea Level, Earthquakes, and Weather
    journal, August 2019

    • Anenberg, Susan C.; Dutton, Andrea; Goulet, Christine A.
    • Earth's Future, Vol. 7, Issue 8
    • DOI: 10.1029/2019ef001242

    Increased Fall Precipitation in the Southeastern United States Driven by Higher‐Intensity, Frontal Precipitation
    journal, July 2019

    • Bishop, Daniel A.; Williams, A. Park; Seager, Richard
    • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 46, Issue 14
    • DOI: 10.1029/2019gl083177

    Projected Changes in Interannual Variability of Peak Snowpack Amount and Timing in the Western United States
    journal, August 2019

    • Marshall, Adrienne M.; Abatzoglou, John T.; Link, Timothy E.
    • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 46, Issue 15
    • DOI: 10.1029/2019gl083770

    Why extreme rains are gaining strength as the climate warms
    journal, November 2018


    Projected increases and shifts in rain-on-snow flood risk over western North America
    journal, August 2018


    Increasing exposure of energy infrastructure to compound hazards: cascading wildfires and extreme rainfall
    journal, October 2019


    Precipitation amount and event size interact to reduce ecosystem functioning during dry years in a mesic grassland
    journal, August 2019

    • Felton, Andrew J.; Slette, Ingrid J.; Smith, Melinda D.
    • Global Change Biology, Vol. 26, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14789

    Reduced tree growth in the semiarid United States due to asymmetric responses to intensifying precipitation extremes
    journal, October 2019

    • Dannenberg, Matthew P.; Wise, Erika K.; Smith, William K.
    • Science Advances, Vol. 5, Issue 10
    • DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw0667

    Developmental phenotypic plasticity helps bridge stochastic weather events associated with climate change
    journal, May 2018

    • Burggren, Warren
    • The Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 221, Issue 9
    • DOI: 10.1242/jeb.161984

    An ecosystem-wide reproductive failure with more snow in the Arctic
    journal, October 2019

    • Schmidt, Niels Martin; Reneerkens, Jeroen; Christensen, Jens Hesselbjerg
    • PLOS Biology, Vol. 17, Issue 10
    • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000392

    Climate Change, Land Use/Land Cover Change, and Population Growth as Drivers of Groundwater Depletion in the Central Valleys, Oaxaca, Mexico
    journal, May 2019

    • Ojeda Olivares, Edwin Antonio; Sandoval Torres, Sadoth; Belmonte Jiménez, Salvador Isidro
    • Remote Sensing, Vol. 11, Issue 11
    • DOI: 10.3390/rs11111290

    Climate Change Impact on Water Resources in the Awash Basin, Ethiopia
    journal, November 2018

    • Taye, Meron; Dyer, Ellen; Hirpa, Feyera
    • Water, Vol. 10, Issue 11
    • DOI: 10.3390/w10111560

    The response of precipitation characteristics to global warming from climate projections
    journal, January 2019

    • Giorgi, Filippo; Raffaele, Francesca; Coppola, Erika
    • Earth System Dynamics, Vol. 10, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.5194/esd-10-73-2019

    Quantifying projected changes in runoff variability and flow regimes of the Fraser River Basin, British Columbia
    journal, January 2019

    • Islam, Siraj Ul; Curry, Charles L.; Déry, Stephen J.
    • Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Vol. 23, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.5194/hess-23-811-2019

      Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.