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What is the contribution of convergence zones to global precipitation? Assessing observations and climate models biases

Perez, G. M. P., Vidale, P. L. ORCID:, Dacre, H. ORCID: and Martin, T. C. M. (2024) What is the contribution of convergence zones to global precipitation? Assessing observations and climate models biases. JGR Atmospheres, 129 (9). e2023JD039635. ISSN 2169-8996

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2023JD039635


Convergence zones (CZs) are known drivers of precipitation regimes from regional to planetary scales. However, there is a scarcity of accounts of the contribution of CZs to the global precipitation. In this study, we build upon a recently developed Lagrangian diagnostic to attribute precipitation to CZ events in observations and simulations submitted to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 6 (CMIP6). Observed CZs are identified using ERA5 reanalysis wind and attributed precipitation from observational products based on satellite estimates and rain gauges. We estimate that approximately 54% (51%–59%, depending on the precipitation product) of global precipitation falls over CZs; in some regions, such as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and subtropical monsoon regions, this proportion is greater than 60%. All CMIP6 simulations analyzed here attribute about 10% more precipitation to CZ events than what the observations suggest. To investigate this overestimation, we decompose the precipitation error in terms of frequency and intensity of CZ precipitation and find that all models present a substantial positive bias in the frequency of CZ precipitation, suggesting that climate models trigger precipitation too easily in regions of airmass confluence; such positive frequency biases in CZ precipitation help explaining well-known biases in climate models, such as the double-ITCZ in the Pacific. We also find that models with better mass conservation present an apportionment of CZ precipitation closest to the observational estimates, demonstrating the relevance of mass conservation in advection schemes.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:116210
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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