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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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