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Atmospheric warming and the amplification of precipitation extremes

Allan, R. P. and Soden, B.J. (2008) Atmospheric warming and the amplification of precipitation extremes. Science, 321 (5895). pp. 1481-1484. ISSN 1095-9203

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1126/science.1160787

Abstract/Summary

Climate models suggest that extreme precipitation events will become more common in an anthropogenically warmed climate. However, observational limitations have hindered a direct evaluation of model-projected changes in extreme precipitation. We used satellite observations and model simulations to examine the response of tropical precipitation events to naturally driven changes in surface temperature and atmospheric moisture content. These observations reveal a distinct link between rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods and decreasing during cold periods. Furthermore, the observed amplification of rainfall extremes is found to be larger than that predicted by models, implying that projections of future changes in rainfall extremes in response to anthropogenic global warming may be underestimated.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Environmental Systems Science Centre
ID Code:1172
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science

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