Oct 23, 2013

Causes of Robust Seasonal Land Precipitation Changes

Debbie Polson and Gabriele C. Hegerl
AMS Journal of Climate
  • Uses historical simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) archive to calculate the zonal-mean change in seasonal land precipitation for the second half of the twentieth century in response to a range of external forcings, including anthropogenic and natural forcings combined (ALL), greenhouse gas forcing, anthropogenic aerosol forcing, anthropogenic forcings combined, and natural forcing
  • Uses these simulated patterns of change as fingerprints in a detection and attribution study applied to four different gridded observational datasets of global land precipitation from 1951 to 2005
  • The results show some differences between datasets, but the influence of external forcings is robustly detected in March–May, December–February, and for annual changes for the three datasets more suitable for studying changes
  • For June–August and September–November, external forcing is only detected for the dataset that includes only long-term stations
  • Fingerprints for combinations of forcings that include the effect of greenhouse gases are similarly detectable to those for ALL forcings, suggesting that greenhouse gas influence drives the detectable features of the ALL forcing fingerprint
  • Fingerprints of only natural or only anthropogenic aerosol forcing are not detected
  • Concludes that this, together with two-fingerprint results, suggests that at least some of the detected change in zonal land precipitation can be attributed to human influences