Climatic Change

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 145-176

First online:

A Climate Change Scenario for the Tropics

  • Mike HulmeAffiliated withClimatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
  • , David VinerAffiliated withClimatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

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This paper describes the construction of a climate change scenario for a region representing the ‘extended’ Tropics – 30° N to 30° S – using a methodology that combines results from a simple climate model and a Global Climate Model (GCM) transient climate change experiment. The estimated date by which this climate change scenario might be realized ranges from as early as the end of the 2030s to as late as well into the 22nd century. The central estimate is for this scenario to describe the climate of the 2060s, which would represent a global warming rate of about 0.2 °C per decade, with associated atmospheric CO2 concentrations estimated to be about 560 ppmv, 55% higher than 1990 levels. The role of anthropogenic aerosols in offsetting part of this future global warming and altering the regional character of the changes has not been considered. The paper presents changes in mean temperature; mean rainfall; rainfall seasonality, variability, frequency, and intensity and soil moisture. These patterns of change derive from only one GCM climate change experiment; different experiments would yield different patterns for the same global warming. There is also some discussion about possible changes in tropical cyclone (TC) activity, although since TCs remain poorly modelled in GCMs, the full range of possibilities (from reduced activity, through no change, to increased activity) should be considered in any impact assessment.