Feb 21, 2017

Observed and Projected Changes to the Precipitation Annual Cycle

Kate Marvel, Michela Biasutti, Céline Bonfils and Karl E. Taylor, Yochanan Kushnir, Benjamin I. Cook
Journal of Climate
  • States that anthropogenic climate change is predicted to cause spatial and temporal shifts in precipitation patterns, which may be apparent in changes to the annual cycle of zonal mean precipitation P
  • States that trends in the amplitude and phase of the P annual cycle in two long-term, global satellite datasets are broadly similar
  • Conducts a formal detection and attribution analysis using model-derived fingerprints of externally forced changes to the amplitude and phase of the P seasonal cycle, combined with these observations
  • Finds that observed amplitude changes are inconsistent with model estimates of internal variability but not attributable to the model-predicted response to external forcing
  • Notes that this mismatch between observed and predicted amplitude changes is consistent with the sustained La Niña–like conditions that characterize the recent slowdown in the rise of the global mean temperature; however, observed changes to the annual cycle phase do not seem to be driven by this recent hiatus
  • Concludes that these changes may suggest the emergence of an externally forced signal