Increases in extreme precipitation over the Northeast United States using high-resolution climate model simulations
Study key findings & significance
- The study uses a model with higher spatial resolution than previous studies to analyze September–November extreme precipitation in the US Northeast.
- The model simulates much more realistic extreme precipitation, including frequency, amplitude, and temporal variability.
- The model projects unprecedented rainfall events over the region by the mid-21st century due to human-caused climate change.
- Very extreme events (>150 mm/day; 6 in/day) may be six times more likely by 2100 than in the early 21st century.
Extreme precipitation is among the most destructive natural disasters. Simulating changes in regional extreme precipitation remains challenging, partially limited by climate models’ horizontal resolution. Here, we use an ensemble of high-resolution global climate model simulations to study September–November extreme precipitation over the Northeastern United States, where extremes have increased rapidly since the mid-1990s. We show that a model with 25 km horizontal resolution simulates much more realistic extreme precipitation than comparable models with 50 or 100 km resolution, including frequency, amplitude, and temporal variability. The 25 km model simulated trends are quantitatively consistent with observed trends over recent decades. We use the same model for future projections. By the mid-21st century, the model projects unprecedented rainfall events over the region, driven by increasing anthropogenic radiative forcing and distinguishable from natural variability. Very extreme events (>150 mm/day) may be six times more likely by 2100 than in the early 21st century.