Lavers, David A., Ralph, F. Martin, Waliser, Duane E., Gershunov, Alexander, Dettinger, Michael D.

Geophysical Research Letters

Published date July 8, 2015

Climate change intensification of horizontal water vapor transport in CMIP5

  • States that global warming of the Earth's atmosphere is hypothesized to lead to an intensification of the global water cycle
  • States that most previous research has used precipitation to determine associated hydrological changes
  • This study investigates projected changes to global atmospheric water vapor transport (integrated vapor transport (IVT)), the key link between water source and sink regions
  • Using 22 global circulation models from the Climate Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5, the study evaluates, globally, the mean, standard deviation, and the 95th percentiles of IVT from the historical simulations (1979–2005) and two emissions scenarios (2073–2099)
  • Finds that (considering the more extreme emissions) multimodel mean IVT increases by 30–40% in the North Pacific and North Atlantic storm tracks and in the equatorial Pacific Ocean trade winds
  • Finds an acceleration of the high-latitude IVT
  • Analysis of low-altitude moisture and winds suggests that these changes are mainly due to higher atmospheric water vapor content