Increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation are projected for most U.S. regions under climate change. There is a high degree of uncertainty, however, in precipitation regime changes across the large precipitation gradient of the Arkansas Red River basin (ARRB). The authors analyzed future precipitation regimes using two statistical downscaling datasets based on the scenarios from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Seasonal precipitation in low-to-high quantiles was calculated and compared for the southern ARRB where the downscaled data were available. The results showed a generally comparable shift in precipitation patterns and amounts between the two datasets. However, some spatial variation of precipitation amount change exists, and the direction of change could be opposite for the summer. Both datasets showed that the top 10% of monthly precipitation amounts could increase for the southern ARRB, mostly ranging from 5–10 mm month−1 for the early part of the century (2010–39) to 15–30 mm month−1 for the midcentury (2040–69) as compared with the historical period (1968–97). The maximum monthly precipitation could increase by up to 150 mm in both datasets by the midcentury. Precipitation was projected to increase regardless of quantile during both winter and spring but tended to decrease during summer and autumn. More-frequent and higher-intensity rainfall events were expected for the eastern part of the basin, and longer and drier dry periods were expected for the western basin. Conservation strategies and sustainable water management should consider the regional differences in the projected changes in precipitation regimes for the basin under climate change.
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