Accessibility navigation


Advances in understanding large-scale responses of the water cycle to climate change

Allan, R., Barlow, M., Byrne, M. P., Cherchi, A., Douville, H., Fowler, H. J., Gan, T. Y., Pendergrass, A. G., Rosenfeld, D., Swann, A. L. S., Wilcox, L. and Zolina, O. (2020) Advances in understanding large-scale responses of the water cycle to climate change. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. ISSN 1749-6632

[img]
Preview
Text (Open Access) - Published Version
· Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.

1MB

It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/nyas.14337

Abstract/Summary

Globally, thermodynamics explains an increase in atmospheric water vapor with warming of around 7%/°C near to the surface. In contrast, global precipitation and evaporation are constrained by the Earth's energy balance to increase at ∼2–3%/°C. However, this rate of increase is suppressed by rapid atmospheric adjustments in response to greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosols that directly alter the atmospheric energy budget. Rapid adjustments to forcings, cooling effects from scattering aerosol, and observational uncertainty can explain why observed global precipitation responses are currently difficult to detect but are expected to emerge and accelerate as warming increases and aerosol forcing diminishes. Precipitation increases with warming are expected to be smaller over land than ocean due to limitations on moisture convergence, exacerbated by feedbacks and affected by rapid adjustments. Thermodynamic increases in atmospheric moisture fluxes amplify wet and dry events, driving an intensification of precipitation extremes. The rate of intensification can deviate from a simple thermodynamic response due to in‐storm and larger‐scale feedback processes, while changes in large‐scale dynamics and catchment characteristics further modulate the frequency of flooding in response to precipitation increases. Changes in atmospheric circulation in response to radiative forcing and evolving surface temperature patterns are capable of dominating water cycle changes in some regions. Moreover, the direct impact of human activities on the water cycle through water abstraction, irrigation, and land use change is already a significant component of regional water cycle change and is expected to further increase in importance as water demand grows with global population.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Walker Institute
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO)
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:89947
Publisher:New York Academy of Sciences

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation