Climate Dynamics

, Volume 41, Issue 11–12, pp 2921–2936 | Cite as

Present-day and future Amazonian precipitation in global climate models: CMIP5 versus CMIP3

  • E. Joetzjer
  • H. Douville
  • C. Delire
  • P. Ciais


The present study aims at evaluating and comparing precipitation over the Amazon in two sets of historical and future climate simulations based on phase 3 (CMIP3) and 5 (CMIP5) of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. Thirteen models have been selected in order to discuss (1) potential improvements in the simulation of present-day climate and (2) the potential reduction in the uncertainties of the model response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. While several features of present-day precipitation—including annual cycle, spatial distribution and co variability with tropical sea surface temperature (SST)—have been improved, strong uncertainties remain in the climate projections. A closer comparison between CMIP5 and CMIP3 highlights a weaker consensus on increased precipitation during the wet season, but a stronger consensus on a drying and lengthening of the dry season. The latter response is related to a northward shift of the boreal summer intertropical convergence zone in CMIP5, in line with a more asymmetric warming between the northern and southern hemispheres. The large uncertainties that persist in the rainfall response arise from contrasted anomalies in both moisture convergence and evapotranspiration. They might be related to the diverse response of tropical SST and ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) variability, as well as to spurious behaviours among the models that show the most extreme response. Model improvements of present-day climate do not necessarily translate into more reliable projections and further efforts are needed for constraining the pattern of the SST response and the soil moisture feedback in global climate scenarios.


CMIP Amazonian precipitation Model evaluation Climate change Uncertainties 



The authors are grateful to Michael Coe for his helpful comments on the first draft of this article. Thanks are also due to the French Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique for supporting this study, as well as to Hervé Giordani for helpful discussion and to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNRM-GAMEToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Laboratory of Climate Sciences and the EnvironmentGif-sur-YvetteFrance

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