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Historical and potential changes of precipitation and temperature of Alberta subjected to climate change impact: 1900–2100

Abstract

We investigated changes to precipitation and temperature of Alberta for historical and future periods. First, the Mann-Kendall test and Sen’s slope were used to test for historical trends and trend magnitudes from the climate data of Alberta, respectively. Second, the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) (A1B, A2, and B1) of CMIP3 (Phase 3 of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project), projected by seven general circulation models (GCM) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for three 30 years periods (2020s, 2050s, and 2080s), were used to evaluate the potential impact of climate change on precipitation and temperature of Alberta. Third, trends of projected precipitation and temperature were investigated, and differences between historical versus projected trends were estimated. Using the 50-km resolution dataset from CANGRD (Canadian Grid Climate Data), we found that Alberta had become warmer and somewhat drier for the past 112 years (1900–2011), especially in central and southern Alberta. For observed precipitation, upward trends mainly occurred in northern Alberta and at the leeward side of Canadian Rocky Mountains. However, only about 13 to 22 % of observed precipitation showed statistically significant increasing trends at 5 % significant level. Most observed temperature showed significant increasing trends, up to 0.05 °C/year in DJF (December, January, and February) in northern Alberta. GCMs’ SRES projections indicated that seasonal precipitation of Alberta could change from −25 to 36 %, while the temperature would increase from 2020s to 2080s, with the largest increase (6.8 °C) in DJF. In all 21 GCM-SRES cases considered, precipitation in both DJF and MAM (March, April, and May) is projected to increase, while temperature is consistently projected to increase in all seasons, which generally agree with the trends of historical precipitation and temperature. The SRES A1B scenario of CCSM3 might project more realistic future climate for Alberta, where its water resources can become more critical in the future as its streamflow is projected to decrease continually in the future.

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Acknowledgments

This work has been partly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51509201,51479160,41471451), Scientific Research Program Funded by Shaanxi Provincial Education Department (Grant No. 15JK1503), Research Foundation of State Key Laboratory Base of Eco-hydraulic Engineering in Arid Area (Grant No. 2013ZZKT-5), and Doctoral Start-up Foundation of Xi’an University of Technology (Grant No. 118-211413). The Climate Research Branch of the Meteorological Service of Canada provided CANGRD data sets. The GCMs’ simulations were obtained from the PCIC and WCRP CMIP3 multimodel dataset. The authors would like to extend their thanks to Drs. Xuezhi Tan and Hailong He for their assistance on this study. The comments and suggestions of two anonymous reviewers have improved our manuscript.

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Correspondence to Thian Yew Gan.

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Jiang, R., Gan, T.Y., Xie, J. et al. Historical and potential changes of precipitation and temperature of Alberta subjected to climate change impact: 1900–2100. Theor Appl Climatol 127, 725–739 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-015-1664-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-015-1664-y

Keywords

  • Shuttle Radar Topography Mission
  • British Columbia
  • Precipitation Trend
  • Trend Magnitude
  • Pacific North America