Precipitation, radiative forcing and global temperature change
Andrews, T., Forster, P. M., Boucher, O., Bellouin, N. and Jones, A. (2010) Precipitation, radiative forcing and global temperature change. Geophysical Research Letters, 37 (14). L14701. ISSN 0094-8276
To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043991
Radiative forcing is a useful tool for predicting equilibrium global temperature change. However, it is not so useful for predicting global precipitation changes, as changes in precipitation strongly depend on the climate change mechanism and how it perturbs the atmospheric and surface energy budgets. Here a suite of climate model experiments and radiative transfer calculations are used to quantify and assess this dependency across a range of climate change mechanisms. It is shown that the precipitation response can be split into two parts: a fast atmospheric response that strongly correlates with the atmospheric component of radiative forcing, and a slower response to global surface temperature change that is independent of the climate change mechanism, ∼2-3% per unit of global surface temperature change. We highlight the precipitation response to black carbon aerosol forcing as falling within this range despite having an equilibrium response that is of opposite sign to the radiative forcing and global temperature change.