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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-62
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
20 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).
Regional scaling of annual mean precipitation and water availability with global temperature change
Peter Greve1,2, Lukas Gudmundsson1, and Sonia I. Seneviratne1 1Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
2International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
Abstract. Changes in regional water availability belong to the most crucial potential impacts of anthropogenic climate change, but are highly uncertain. It is thus of key importance for stakeholders to assess the possible implications of different global temperature thresholds on these quantities. Using a large subset of climate model simulations from the 5th phase of the Coupled Modeling Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), we derive here the sensitivity of regional changes in precipitation and precipitation minus evapotranspiration to global temperature changes. The simulations span the full range of available emissions scenarios and the sensitivities are derived using a modified pattern scaling approach. The applied approach assumes linear dependencies on global temperature changes while thoroughly addressing associated uncertainties via resampling methods. This allows us to assess the full distribution of the simulations in a probabilistic sense. Northern high latitude regions display robust responses towards a wetting, while subtropical regions display a tendency towards drying but with a large range of responses. Even though both internal variability and the scenario choice play an important role in the overall spread of the simulations, the uncertainty stemming from the climate model choice usually accounts for about half of the total uncertainty in most regions. We additionally assess the implications of limiting global mean temperature warming to values below (i) 2K or (ii) 1.5K (as stated within the 2015 Paris Agreement). We show that opting for the 1.5K-target might just slightly influence the mean response, but could substantially reduce the risk of experiencing extreme changes in regional water availability.

Citation: Greve, P., Gudmundsson, L., and Seneviratne, S. I.: Regional scaling of annual mean precipitation and water availability with global temperature change, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-62, in review, 2017.
Peter Greve et al.
Peter Greve et al.
Peter Greve et al.

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Short summary
Changes in regional water availability belong to the most crucial potential impacts of anthropogenic climate change, but are highly uncertain. We statistically assess here the response of precipitation and water availability to global temperature change, allowing us to estimate the significance of drying/wetting tendencies globally. We further show that opting for the 1.5K-target just slightly influences mean changes, but could substantially reduce the risk of experiencing extremes changes.
Changes in regional water availability belong to the most crucial potential impacts of...
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