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An uncertain future change in aridity over the tropics

Monerie, P.-A. ORCID:, Chadwick, R., Wilcox, L. J. ORCID: and Turner, A. G. ORCID: (2024) An uncertain future change in aridity over the tropics. Environmental Research Letters, 19 (5). 054048. ISSN 1748-9326

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ad42b8


An ensemble of climate models from phase six of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project shows that temperature and potential evapotranspiration are projected to increase globally towards the end of the 21st century. However, climate models show a spatially heterogeneous change in precipitation over the tropics. Consequently, future changes in aridity (a measure of water availability) are complex and location-dependent. We assess future changes in aridity using three climate models and several single-forcing experiments. Near-term (2021-2040) changes in aridity are small, and we focus instead on its long-term (2081-2100) changes. We show that the increase in greenhouse gases primarily explains the spatial pattern, magnitude and ensemble spread of the long-term future changes in aridity. On this timescale, the effects of changes in emissions of anthropogenic aerosols are moderate compared to the effects of increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Model diversity in the responses to greenhouse gas concentration is large over northern Africa and North and South America. We suggest the large uncertainty is due to differences between models in simulating the effects of an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations on surface air temperature over the North Atlantic Ocean, on the interhemispheric temperature gradient, and on potential evapotranspiration over North and South America.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:116194
Publisher:Institute of Physics


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