Climatic Change

, Volume 64, Issue 1–2, pp 59–76 | Cite as

Century-Scale Change in Water Availability: CO2-Quadrupling Experiment

  • S. Manabe
  • R. T. Wetherald
  • P. C. D. Milly
  • T. L. Delworth
  • R. J. Stouffer


It has been suggested that, unless a major effort is made, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide may rise above four times the pre-industrial level in a few centuries. Here we use a coupled atmosphere-ocean-land model to explore the response of the global water cycle to such a large increase in carbon dioxide, focusing on river discharge and soil moisture. Our results suggest that water is going to be more plentiful in those regions of the world that are already `water-rich'. However, water stresses will increase significantly in regions and seasons that are already relatively dry. This could pose a very challenging problem for water-resource management around the world. For soil moisture, our results indicate reductions during much of the year in many semi-arid regions of the world, such as the southwestern region of North America, the northeastern region of China, the Mediterranean coast of Europe, and the grasslands of Australia and Africa. In some of these regions, soil moisture values are reduced by almost a factor of two during the dry season. The drying in semi-arid regions is likely to induce the outward expansion of deserts to the surrounding regions. Over extensive regions of both the Eurasian and North American continents in high and middle latitudes, soil moisture decreases in summer but increases in winter, in contrast to the situation in semi-arid regions. For river discharge, our results indicate an average increase of ∼ 15% during the next few centuries. The discharges from Arctic rivers such as the Mackenzie and Ob' increase by much larger fractions. In the tropics, the discharges from the Amazonas and Ganga-Brahmaputra also increase considerably. However, the percentage changes in runoff from other tropical and many mid-latitude rivers are smaller.


Soil Moisture Mediterranean Coast Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Potential Evaporation Northeastern Region 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen, M. R. and Ingram, W. J.: 2002, 'Constraints on Future Changes in Climate and the Hydrologic Cycle', Nature 419, 224–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bryan K. and Lewis L. J.: 1979, 'A Water Mass Model of the World Oceans', J. Geophys. Res. 84, 2503–2517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Budyko, M. I.: 1956, Heat Balance of Earth's Surface (in Russan), Gidrometeoizdat, 255 pp.Google Scholar
  4. Cubasch et al.: 2001, 'Projection of Future Climate Change', Chapter 9 in Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 524–582.Google Scholar
  5. Delworth, T. L., Stouffer, R. J. Dixon, K. W., Spelman, M. J., Knutson, T. R., Broccoli, A. J., Kushner, P. J., and Wetherald, R. T.: 2002, 'Review of Simulations of Climate Variability and Change with the GFDL R30 Coupled Climate Model', Clim. Dyn. 19, 555–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gill, A. E.: 1980, 'Some Simple Solutions for Heat-Induced Tropical Circulation', Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 106, 447–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. IPCC: 1992, 'Climate Change, 1992: The Supplimentary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment', in Houghton, J. T., Callander, B. A., and Varney, S. K. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 269 pp.Google Scholar
  8. Manabe, S.: 1969, 'Climate and Ocean Circulation: 1, The Atmospheric Circulation and Hydrology of the Earth's Surface', Mon. Wea. Rev. 97, 739–774.Google Scholar
  9. Manabe, S., Bryan, K., Spelman, M. J., and Bryan, K.: 1991, 'Transient Response of a Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Model to Gradual Change of Atmospheric CO2', J. Climate 4, 785–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Manabe, S., Smagorinsky, J., and Strickler, R. F.: 1965, 'Simulated Climatology of a General Circulation Model with a Hydrologic Cycle', Mon. Wea. Rev. 93, 769–798.Google Scholar
  11. Manabe, S. and Stouffer, R. J.: 1993, 'Century-Scale Effects of Increased Atmospheric CO2 on the Ocean-Atmosphere System', Nature 364, 215–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Manabe, S. and Stouffer, R. J.: 1994, 'Multi-Century Response of a Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Model to an Increase of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide', J. Climate 7, 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Manabe, S. and Wetherald, R. T.: 1975, 'The Effect of Doubling the CO2 Concentration on the Climate of a General Circulation Model', J. Atmos. Sci. 32, 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Milly, P. C. D.: 1992, 'Potential Evaporation and Soil Moisture in General Circulation Models', J. Climate 5, 209–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Milly, P. C. D.: 1997, 'Sensitivity of Greenhouse Summer Dryness to Changes in Plant Rooting Characteristics', Geophys. Res. Lett. 24, 269–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Milly, P. C. D., Wetherald, R. T., Dunne, K. A., and Delworth, T. L.: 2002, 'Increasing Risk of Great Floods in a Changing Climate', Nature 415, 514–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Orsag, S. A.: 1970, 'Transform Method for Calculating Vector-Coupled Sums: Application to the Spectral Form of the Vorticity Equation', J. Atmos. Sci. 27, 890–895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Peterson, B. J., Holmes, R. M., McClelland, J. W., Vörösmarty, C. J., Lammers, R. B., Shiklomanov, A. I., Shiklomanov, Igor A., and Rahmstorf, S.: 2002, 'Increasing River Discharge to the Arctic Ocean', Science 298, 2171–2173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Redi M. H.: 1982, 'Oceanic Isopycnal Mixing by Coordinate Rotation', J. Phys. Oceanog. 12, 1154–1158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rodwell, M. J. and Hoskins, B. J.: 1996, 'Monsoon and the Dynamics of Deserts', Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 122, 1385–1404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Walker, J. C. G. and Kasting, J. F.: 1992, 'Effect of Fuel and Forest Conservation on Future Levels of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide', Paleogeogr. Paleoclimatol. Paleoecol. 97, 151–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wetherald, R. T. and Manabe, S.: 1975, 'The Effect of Changing Solar Constant on the Climate of a General Circulation Model', J. Atmos. Sci. 32, 2044–2059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wetherald, R. T. and Manabe, S.: 1995, 'The Mechanism of Summer Dryness Induced by Greenhouse Warming', J. Climate 8, 3096–3108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wetherald, R. T. and Manabe, S.: 2002, 'Simulation of Hydrologic Changes Associated with Global Warming', J. Geophys. Res. 107, 4379–4394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Manabe
    • 1
  • R. T. Wetherald
    • 2
  • P. C. D. Milly
    • 3
  • T. L. Delworth
    • 2
  • R. J. Stouffer
    • 2
  1. 1.Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonU.S.A.
  2. 2.Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAAPrinceton UniversityPrincetonU.S.A
  3. 3.U.S. Geological SurveyGFDL/NOAAPrincetonU.S.A

Personalised recommendations