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Storylines of atmospheric circulation change for European regional climate impact assessment

Zappa, G. and Shepherd, T. G. (2017) Storylines of atmospheric circulation change for European regional climate impact assessment. Journal of Climate, 30 (16). pp. 6561-6577. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0807.1

Abstract/Summary

There is increasing interest to understand the regional impacts of different global warming targets. However, several regional climate impacts depend on the atmospheric circulation, whose response to climate change remains substantially uncertain and not interpretable in a probabilistic sense in multi–model ensemble projections. To account for these uncertainties, a novel approach where regional climate change is analysed as a function of carbon emissions conditional on plausible storylines of atmospheric circulation change is here presented and applied to the CMIP5 models future projections. The different storylines are determined based on the response in three remote drivers of regional circulation: the tropical and polar amplification of global warming, and the stratospheric vortex strength. As an illustration of this approach, it is shown that the severity of the projected wintertime Mediterranean precipitation decline and Central European windiness increase strongly depends on the storyline of circulation change. For a given magnitude of global warming, the highest impact storyline for these aspects of European climate is found for a high tropical amplification and a strengthening of the vortex. The difference in the precipitation and wind responses between the storylines is substantial and equivalent to the contribution from several degrees of global warming. Improving the understanding of the remote driver responses is thus needed to better bound the projected regional impacts in the European sector. The value of these storylines to represent the uncertainty in regional climate projections and to inform the selection of CMIP5 models in regional climate impact studies is discussed.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:70531
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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