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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2018-64
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2018-64
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 12 Sep 2018

Research article | 12 Sep 2018

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

The response of precipitation characteristics to global warming from global and regional climate projections

Filippo Giorgi, Francesca Raffaele, and Erika Coppola Filippo Giorgi et al.
  • Earth System Physics Section, The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, 34151 Trieste, Italy

Abstract. We revisit the issue of the response of the precipitation characteristics to global warming based on analyses of global and regional climate model projections for the 21st century. The prevailing response we identify can be summarized as follows: increase in the intensity of precipitation events and extremes, with the occurrence of events of unprecedented magnitude, i.e. magnitude not found in present day climate; decrease in the number of light precipitation events and in wet spell lengths; increase in the number of dry days and dry spell lengths. This response, which is mostly consistent across the models we analized, is tied to the difference between precipitation intensity responding to increases in local humidity conditions, especially for heavy and extreme events, and mean precipitation responding to slower increases in global evaporation. These changes in hydroclimatic characteristics have multiple and important impacts on the Earth's hydrologic cycle and on a variety of sectors, and as examples we investigate effects on the potential stress due to increases in dry and wet extremes, changes in precipitation interannual variability and changes in potential predictability of precipitation events. We also stress how the understanding of the hydroclimatic response to global warming can shed important insights into the fundamental behavior of precipitation processes, most noticeably tropical convection.

Filippo Giorgi et al.
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Filippo Giorgi et al.
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Short summary
The paper revisits the critical issue of the precipitation characteristics response to global warming through a new analysis of global and regional climate projections and a summary of previous work. Robust responses are identified and the underlying processes investigated. Examples of applications are given, such as the evaluation of risks associated to extremes. The paper, solicited by the EGU executive office, is based on the 2018 EGU Alexander von Humboldt medal lecture by F. Giorgi.
The paper revisits the critical issue of the precipitation characteristics response to global...
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