Extratropical cyclones and the projected decline of winter Mediterranean precipitation in the CMIP5 models
Zappa, G., Hawcroft, M. K., Shaffrey, L., Black, E. and Brayshaw, D. J. (2015) Extratropical cyclones and the projected decline of winter Mediterranean precipitation in the CMIP5 models. Climate Dynamics, 45 (7-8). pp. 1727-1738. ISSN 0930-7575
To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s00382-014-2426-8
The Mediterranean region has been identified as a climate change "hot-spot" due to a projected reduction in precipitation and fresh water availability which has potentially large socio-economic impacts. To increase confidence in these projections, it is important to physically understand how this precipitation reduction occurs. This study quantifies the impact on winter Mediterranean precipitation due to changes in extratropical cyclones in 17 CMIP5 climate models. In each model, the extratropical cyclones are objectively tracked and a simple approach is applied to identify the precipitation associated to each cyclone. This allows us to decompose the Mediterranean precipitation reduction into a contribution due to changes in the number of cyclones and a contribution due to changes in the amount of precipitation generated by each cyclone. The results show that the projected Mediterranean precipitation reduction in winter is strongly related to a decrease in the number of Mediterranean cyclones. However, the contribution from changes in the amount of precipitation generated by each cyclone are also locally important: in the East Mediterranean they amplify the precipitation trend due to the reduction in the number of cyclones, while in the North Mediterranean they compensate for it. Some of the processes that determine the opposing cyclone precipitation intensity responses in the North and East Mediterranean regions are investigated by exploring the CMIP5 inter-model spread.