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Agreement between Observed Rainfall Trends and Climate Change Simulations in the Southwest of Europe

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  • 1 Departamento de Astrofísica y Física de la Atmósfera, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
  • | 2 Institute for Hydrophysics, GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht, Germany
  • | 3 Departamento de Astrofísica y Física de la Atmósfera, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
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Abstract

The lowest spatial scale at which current climate models are considered to be skillful is on the order of 1000 km because of resolution and computer capabilities. The estimation of the regional changes caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols therefore is problematic. Here a statistical downscaling scheme is used to study the relationship between large-scale sea level pressure and regional precipitation in southwestern Europe, both in observed data and in outputs from a general circulation model (GCM) forced with increasing levels of greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols. The results indicate that the GCM does reproduce the main aspects of the large- to local-scale coupled variability. Furthermore, these large- to local-scale relationships remain stable in the scenario simulations. The GCM runs predict increases of advection of oceanic air masses to the Iberian Peninsula that will produce a slight decrease of precipitation amounts in the north coast and the opposite effect in the rest of the territory, with values that could reach 10 mm decade−1 in the south. In the homogenized historical records, the obtained pattern of change is very similar. These results support estimations of future regional trends simulated by the GCM under future emission scenarios.

Corresponding author address: J. F. González-Rouco, GKSS-Forschungszentrum, GUA GEB 38, Max-Planck-Strasse 1, D-21502 Geesthacht, Germany.

Email: fidel@gkss.de

Abstract

The lowest spatial scale at which current climate models are considered to be skillful is on the order of 1000 km because of resolution and computer capabilities. The estimation of the regional changes caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols therefore is problematic. Here a statistical downscaling scheme is used to study the relationship between large-scale sea level pressure and regional precipitation in southwestern Europe, both in observed data and in outputs from a general circulation model (GCM) forced with increasing levels of greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols. The results indicate that the GCM does reproduce the main aspects of the large- to local-scale coupled variability. Furthermore, these large- to local-scale relationships remain stable in the scenario simulations. The GCM runs predict increases of advection of oceanic air masses to the Iberian Peninsula that will produce a slight decrease of precipitation amounts in the north coast and the opposite effect in the rest of the territory, with values that could reach 10 mm decade−1 in the south. In the homogenized historical records, the obtained pattern of change is very similar. These results support estimations of future regional trends simulated by the GCM under future emission scenarios.

Corresponding author address: J. F. González-Rouco, GKSS-Forschungszentrum, GUA GEB 38, Max-Planck-Strasse 1, D-21502 Geesthacht, Germany.

Email: fidel@gkss.de

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