D. Polson, G. C. Hegerl

Geophysical Research Letters

Published date December 15, 2016

Strengthening contrast between precipitation in tropical wet and dry regions

  • States that the wet‐gets‐wetter, dry‐gets‐drier paradigm (WWDD) is widely used to summarize the expected response of the hydrological cycle to global warming
  • States that some studies find that changes in observations and climate models support the WWDD paradigm, while others find that it is more complicated at local scales and over land
  • States that this discrepancy is partly explained by differences in model climatologies and by movement of the wet and dry regions
  • Shows that by tracking changes in wet and dry regions as they shift over the tropics and vary in models, mean precipitation changes follow the WWDD pattern in observations and models over land and ocean
  • Finds this signal is reduced, however, and disappears in model dry regions, when these factors are not accounted for
  • Concludes that accounting for seasonal and interannual shifts of the regions and climatological differences between models reduces uncertainty in predictions of future precipitation changes and makes these changes detectable earlier