Changes in temperature and precipitation extremes in the CMIP5 ensemble
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Twenty-year temperature and precipitation extremes and their projected future changes are evaluated in an ensemble of climate models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), updating a similar study based on the CMIP3 ensemble. The projected changes are documented for three radiative forcing scenarios. The performance of the CMIP5 models in simulating 20-year temperature and precipitation extremes is comparable to that of the CMIP3 ensemble. The models simulate late 20th century warm extremes reasonably well, compared to estimates from reanalyses. The model discrepancies in simulating cold extremes are generally larger than those for warm extremes. Simulated late 20th century precipitation extremes are plausible in the extratropics but uncertainty in extreme precipitation in the tropics and subtropics remains very large, both in the models and the observationally-constrained datasets. Consistent with CMIP3 results, CMIP5 cold extremes generally warm faster than warm extremes, mainly in regions where snow and sea-ice retreat with global warming. There are tropical and subtropical regions where warming rates of warm extremes exceed those of cold extremes. Relative changes in the intensity of precipitation extremes generally exceed relative changes in annual mean precipitation. The corresponding waiting times for late 20th century extreme precipitation events are reduced almost everywhere, except for a few subtropical regions. The CMIP5 planetary sensitivity in extreme precipitation is about 6 %/°C, with generally lower values over extratropical land.
We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modelling groups for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP the U.S. Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals.
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