, Volume 13, Issue 9, pp 667-680

Changes in daily precipitation under enhanced greenhouse conditions

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Abstract.

 An increase in global average precipitation of about 10% is simulated by two global climate models with mixed layer oceans in response to an equilibrium doubling of carbon dioxide. The UKHI model was developed in the United Kingdom at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research and the CSIRO9 model was developed in Australia by the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research. Regional changes in daily precipitation simulated by these models have been compared. Both models simulate fewer wet days in middle latitudes, and more wet days in high latitudes. At middle and low latitudes, there is a shift in the precipitation type toward more intense convective events, and fewer moderate non-convective events. At high latitudes, the precipitation type remains non-convective and all events simply get heavier, resulting in fewer light events and more moderate and heavy events. The probability of heavy daily precipitation increases by more than 50% in many locations. Extreme events with a probability of 1% or less were considered in terms of return periods (the average period between events of the same magnitude). For a given return period of at least 1 y, precipitation intensity in Europe, USA, Australia and India increases by 10 to 25%. For a given precipitation intensity, the average return period becomes shorter by a factor of 2 to 5. Given that larger changes in frequency occur for heavier simulated events, changes may be even greater for more-extreme events not resolved by models.

Received: 1 July 1996 / Accepted: 21 March 1997