JP6.2 Precipitation and its extremes under climate change

Thursday, 11 June 2009
Stowe Room (Stoweflake Resort and Confernce Center)
Paul A. O'Gorman, MIT, Cambridge, MA; and T. Schneider

Global warming is associated with increases in atmospheric water vapor content and major changes in the hydrological cycle. We study the response of the hydrological cycle to climate change using a combination of theory and simulations with idealized and comprehensive general circulation models (GCMs). In particular, we analyze the changes that occur in mean and extreme precipitation. It has been suggested that the intensities of precipitation extremes should increase proportional to increases in water vapor, but our results show that this is not the case. Changes in latent heating, circulation strength, and the temperature when the precipitation extremes occur must also be taken into account. We will discuss how the growth in precipitation extremes varies seasonally and how it differs in the tropics and high latitudes.
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