Climate Dynamics

, Volume 53, Issue 5–6, pp 3675–3690 | Cite as

The role of topography on projected rainfall change in mid-latitude mountain regions

  • Michael R. GroseEmail author
  • Jozef Syktus
  • Marcus Thatcher
  • Jason P. Evans
  • Fei Ji
  • Tony Rafter
  • Tom Remenyi


Change to precipitation in a warming climate holds many implications for water management into the future, and an enhancement of a precipitation decrease or increase on or around mountains would have numerous impacts. Here, an intermediate resolution regional climate model (RCM) ensemble projects enhanced precipitation decrease on the windward slopes of over many mid-latitude mountains in winter, consistent with theory and model studies of idealised mountain ranges. This ensemble projects that an increase in convective rainfall determines the sign of total rainfall change in many regions in summer, only some of which are on or near mountains such as the European Alps. These same projected changes are present in inland slopes of the Australian Alps compared to surrounding regions as simulated by three RCM ensembles (the intermediate resolution and two high resolution ensembles), which agree on an enhanced precipitation decrease on the windward slopes in winter and spring, as well as an enhanced precipitation increase in summer driven by an increase in convective rainfall. The ensembles disagree on an enhanced precipitation decrease in autumn. The results represent regional-scale added value in the climate change signal of projections from high resolution models in cooler seasons, but suggest that the specific model components such as convection schemes strongly influence projections of summer rainfall change. Confidence in the simulation of change in convective rainfall, or convection-permitting modelling may be needed to raise confidence in summer rainfall projections over mountains.


Regional climate models Added value Rainfall Climate change 



This work was supported by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program’s Earth System and Climate Change hub, the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment Land Water and Planning climate projections 2019 project (VCP19), Queensland Climate Adaptation Strategy (Q-CAS) and the Wine Australia Institute climate project. We thank John McGregor and Jack Katzfey from CSIRO for additional modelling support, helpful advice and assistance.

Supplementary material

382_2019_4736_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1205 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO Oceans and AtmosphereHobartAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Oceans and AtmosphereMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Global Change InstituteThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Climate Change Research Centre and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate ExtremesUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  5. 5.New South Wales Office of Environment and HeritageSydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research CentreHobartAustralia

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