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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2018-48
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Jun 2018

Research article | 29 Jun 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Potential of global land water recycling to mitigate local temperature extremes

Mathias Hauser1, Wim Thiery1,2, and Sonia Isabelle Seneviratne1 Mathias Hauser et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium

Abstract. Soil moisture is projected to decrease in many regions in the 21st century, exacerbating local temperature extremes. Here, we assess the potential of keeping soil moisture conditions at historical levels in the 21st century by recycling local water sources (runoff and a reservoir). To this end, we develop a land water recycling (LWR) scheme which applies locally available water to the soil if soil moisture drops below a predefined threshold (a historical climatology), and assess its influence on the hydrology and extreme temperature indices. We run ensemble simulations with the Community Earth System Model for the 21st century and show that our LWR scheme is able to drastically reduce the land area with decreasing soil moisture. Precipitation responds to the LWR with increases in mid-latitudes, but decreases in monsoon regions. While effects on global temperature are minimal, there are very substantial regional impacts on climate. Higher evapotranspiration and cloud cover in the simulations both contribute to a substantial decrease in hot temperature extremes. These reach up to about 1°C regionally, and are of similar magnitude as the regional climate changes induced by a 0.5°C difference in the global mean temperature, e.g. at 1.5°C vs. 2°C global warming).

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