skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Changing seasonality of moderate and extreme precipitation events in the Alps

Abstract

The intensity of precipitation events is expected to increase in the future.The rate of increase depends on the strength or rarity of the events; very strong and rare events tend to follow the Clausius–Clapeyron relation,whereas weaker events or precipitation averages increase at a smaller rate than expected from the Clausius–Clapeyron relation. An often overlooked aspect is seasonal occurrence of such events, which might change in the future. To address the impact of seasonality, we use a large ensemble of regional and global climate model simulations, comprising tens of thousands of model years of daily temperature and precipitation for the past, present,and future. In order to make the data comparable, they are quantile mapped to observation-based time series representative of the Aare catchment in Switzerland. Model simulations show no increase in annual maximum 1-day precipitation events (Rx1day) over the last 400 years and an increase of 10 %–20 % until the end of the century for a strong (RCP8.5) forcing scenario. This fits with a Clausius–Clapeyron scaling of temperature at the event day, which increases less than annual mean temperature. An important reason for this is a shift in seasonality. Rx1day events become less frequent in late summer and more frequent in early summermore » and early autumn, when it is cooler. The seasonality shift is shown to be related to summer drying. Models with decreasing annual mean or summer mean precipitation show this behaviour more strongly. The highest Rx1day per decade, in contrast, shows no change in seasonality in the future. This discrepancy implies that decadal-scale extremes are thermodynamically limited; conditions conducive to strong events still occur during the hottest time of the year on a decadal scale. In contrast, Rx1day events are also limited by other factors. Conducive conditions are not reached every summer in the present, and even less so in the future. Finally, results suggest that changes in the seasonal cycle need to be accounted for when preparing for moderately extreme precipitation events and assessing their socio-economic impacts.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [1];  [1]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Univ. of Bern (Switzerland)
  2. ETH Zurich (Switzerland); Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Zurich (Switzerland)
  3. ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1565712
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
[Journal Name: Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (Online); Journal Volume: 18; Journal Issue: 7]; Journal ID: ISSN 1684-9981
Publisher:
European Geosciences Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; geology; meteorology & atmospheric sciences; water resources

Citation Formats

Brönnimann, Stefan, Rajczak, Jan, Fischer, Erich M., Raible, Christoph C., Rohrer, Marco, and Schär, Christoph. Changing seasonality of moderate and extreme precipitation events in the Alps. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.5194/nhess-18-2047-2018.
Brönnimann, Stefan, Rajczak, Jan, Fischer, Erich M., Raible, Christoph C., Rohrer, Marco, & Schär, Christoph. Changing seasonality of moderate and extreme precipitation events in the Alps. United States. doi:10.5194/nhess-18-2047-2018.
Brönnimann, Stefan, Rajczak, Jan, Fischer, Erich M., Raible, Christoph C., Rohrer, Marco, and Schär, Christoph. Fri . "Changing seasonality of moderate and extreme precipitation events in the Alps". United States. doi:10.5194/nhess-18-2047-2018. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1565712.
@article{osti_1565712,
title = {Changing seasonality of moderate and extreme precipitation events in the Alps},
author = {Brönnimann, Stefan and Rajczak, Jan and Fischer, Erich M. and Raible, Christoph C. and Rohrer, Marco and Schär, Christoph},
abstractNote = {The intensity of precipitation events is expected to increase in the future.The rate of increase depends on the strength or rarity of the events; very strong and rare events tend to follow the Clausius–Clapeyron relation,whereas weaker events or precipitation averages increase at a smaller rate than expected from the Clausius–Clapeyron relation. An often overlooked aspect is seasonal occurrence of such events, which might change in the future. To address the impact of seasonality, we use a large ensemble of regional and global climate model simulations, comprising tens of thousands of model years of daily temperature and precipitation for the past, present,and future. In order to make the data comparable, they are quantile mapped to observation-based time series representative of the Aare catchment in Switzerland. Model simulations show no increase in annual maximum 1-day precipitation events (Rx1day) over the last 400 years and an increase of 10 %–20 % until the end of the century for a strong (RCP8.5) forcing scenario. This fits with a Clausius–Clapeyron scaling of temperature at the event day, which increases less than annual mean temperature. An important reason for this is a shift in seasonality. Rx1day events become less frequent in late summer and more frequent in early summer and early autumn, when it is cooler. The seasonality shift is shown to be related to summer drying. Models with decreasing annual mean or summer mean precipitation show this behaviour more strongly. The highest Rx1day per decade, in contrast, shows no change in seasonality in the future. This discrepancy implies that decadal-scale extremes are thermodynamically limited; conditions conducive to strong events still occur during the hottest time of the year on a decadal scale. In contrast, Rx1day events are also limited by other factors. Conducive conditions are not reached every summer in the present, and even less so in the future. Finally, results suggest that changes in the seasonal cycle need to be accounted for when preparing for moderately extreme precipitation events and assessing their socio-economic impacts.},
doi = {10.5194/nhess-18-2047-2018},
journal = {Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (Online)},
number = [7],
volume = [18],
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {7}
}

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

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 7 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

What precipitation is extreme?
journal, June 2018


Multi-variable error correction of regional climate models
journal, August 2013

  • Wilcke, Renate Anna Irma; Mendlik, Thomas; Gobiet, Andreas
  • Climatic Change, Vol. 120, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10584-013-0845-x

An ensemble-based approach to climate reconstructions
journal, January 2012


Observed heavy precipitation increase confirms theory and early models
journal, October 2016


Does Quantile Mapping of Simulated Precipitation Correct for Biases in Transition Probabilities and Spell Lengths?
journal, March 2016


Regional climate modeling on European scales: a joint standard evaluation of the EURO-CORDEX RCM ensemble
journal, January 2014

  • Kotlarski, S.; Keuler, K.; Christensen, O. B.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 7, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-7-1297-2014

Sensitivity experiments on the response of Vb cyclones to sea surface temperature and soil moisture changes
journal, January 2017

  • Messmer, Martina; Gómez-Navarro, Juan José; Raible, Christoph C.
  • Earth System Dynamics, Vol. 8, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.5194/esd-8-477-2017

Representation of Extratropical Cyclones, Blocking Anticyclones, and Alpine Circulation Types in Multiple Reanalyses and Model Simulations
journal, April 2018

  • Rohrer, Marco; Brönnimann, Stefan; Martius, Olivia
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 31, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0350.1

Climatology of Vb cyclones, physical mechanisms and their impact on extreme precipitation over Central Europe
journal, January 2015

  • Messmer, M.; Gómez-Navarro, J. J.; Raible, C. C.
  • Earth System Dynamics, Vol. 6, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.5194/esd-6-541-2015

Percentile indices for assessing changes in heavy precipitation events
journal, April 2016


An Overview of CMIP5 and the Experiment Design
journal, April 2012

  • Taylor, Karl E.; Stouffer, Ronald J.; Meehl, Gerald A.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 93, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00094.1

Enhanced summer convective rainfall at Alpine high elevations in response to climate warming
journal, July 2016

  • Giorgi, Filippo; Torma, Csaba; Coppola, Erika
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 9, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2761

Technical Note: Downscaling RCM precipitation to the station scale using statistical transformations – a comparison of methods
journal, January 2012

  • Gudmundsson, L.; Bremnes, J. B.; Haugen, J. E.
  • Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Vol. 16, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.5194/hess-16-3383-2012

Climate and carbon cycle dynamics in a CESM simulation from 850 to 2100 CE
journal, January 2015


Emerging trends in heavy precipitation and hot temperature extremes in Switzerland: Trends in Swiss Climate Extremes
journal, March 2016

  • Scherrer, S. C.; Fischer, E. M.; Posselt, R.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 121, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1002/2015JD024634

Separating climate change signals into thermodynamic, lapse-rate and circulation effects: theory and application to the European summer climate
journal, July 2016


Robust climate scenarios for sites with sparse observations: a two-step bias correction approach: TWO-STEP BIAS CORRECTION
journal, July 2015

  • Rajczak, Jan; Kotlarski, Sven; Salzmann, Nadine
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 36, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.4417

The Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project
journal, January 2011

  • Compo, G. P.; Whitaker, J. S.; Sardeshmukh, P. D.
  • Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Vol. 137, Issue 654
  • DOI: 10.1002/qj.776

A review on regional convection‐permitting climate modeling: Demonstrations, prospects, and challenges
journal, May 2015

  • Prein, Andreas F.; Langhans, Wolfgang; Fosser, Giorgia
  • Reviews of Geophysics, Vol. 53, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014RG000475

Evaluation of delta change and bias correction methods for future daily precipitation: intermodel cross-validation using ENSEMBLES simulations
journal, April 2014


Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrologic cycle
journal, September 2002


EURO-CORDEX: new high-resolution climate change projections for European impact research
journal, July 2013

  • Jacob, Daniela; Petersen, Juliane; Eggert, Bastian
  • Regional Environmental Change, Vol. 14, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10113-013-0499-2

Understanding the regional pattern of projected future changes in extreme precipitation
journal, May 2017

  • Pfahl, S.; O’Gorman, P. A.; Fischer, E. M.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 7, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3287

Models are likely to underestimate increase in heavy rainfall in the extratropical regions with high rainfall intensity: Heavy Rainfall Intensification
journal, July 2017

  • Borodina, Aleksandra; Fischer, Erich M.; Knutti, Reto
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 44, Issue 14
  • DOI: 10.1002/2017GL074530

Empirical-statistical downscaling and error correction of regional climate models and its impact on the climate change signal
journal, September 2011

  • Themeßl, Matthias Jakob; Gobiet, Andreas; Heinrich, Georg
  • Climatic Change, Vol. 112, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0224-4

Heavy precipitation in a changing climate: Does short-term summer precipitation increase faster?
journal, February 2015

  • Ban, Nikolina; Schmidli, Juerg; Schär, Christoph
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 42, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014GL062588

Complexity in estimating past and future extreme short-duration rainfall
journal, March 2017

  • Zhang, Xuebin; Zwiers, Francis W.; Li, Guilong
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 10, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2911

Empirical-statistical downscaling and error correction of daily precipitation from regional climate models
journal, June 2010

  • Jakob Themeßl, Matthias; Gobiet, Andreas; Leuprecht, Armin
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 31, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.2168

Evaluation of the convection-resolving regional climate modeling approach in decade-long simulations
journal, July 2014

  • Ban, Nikolina; Schmidli, Juerg; Schär, Christoph
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 119, Issue 13
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014JD021478

Anthropogenic contribution to global occurrence of heavy-precipitation and high-temperature extremes
journal, April 2015