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Intensity of Hydrological Cycles in Warmer Climates

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  • 1 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • | 2 National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Climate Prediction Center, Washington, D.C
  • | 3 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
  • | 4 National Centers for Environmental Prediction, SAIC/Environmental Modeling Center, Washington, D.C
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Abstract

The fact that the surface and tropospheric temperatures increase with increasing CO2 has been well documented by numerical model simulations; however, less agreement is found for the changes in the intensity of precipitation and the hydrological cycle. Here, it is demonstrated that while both the radiative heating by increasing CO2 and the resulting higher sea surface temperatures contribute to warm the atmosphere, they act against each other in changing the hydrological cycle. As a consequence, in a warmer climate forced by increasing CO2 the intensity of the hydrological cycle can be either more or less intense depending upon the degree of surface warming.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Fanglin Yang, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 913, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: fyang@climate.gsfc.nasa.gov

Abstract

The fact that the surface and tropospheric temperatures increase with increasing CO2 has been well documented by numerical model simulations; however, less agreement is found for the changes in the intensity of precipitation and the hydrological cycle. Here, it is demonstrated that while both the radiative heating by increasing CO2 and the resulting higher sea surface temperatures contribute to warm the atmosphere, they act against each other in changing the hydrological cycle. As a consequence, in a warmer climate forced by increasing CO2 the intensity of the hydrological cycle can be either more or less intense depending upon the degree of surface warming.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Fanglin Yang, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 913, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: fyang@climate.gsfc.nasa.gov

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