Thermodynamic Causes for Future Trends in Heavy Precipitation over Europe Based on an Ensemble of Regional Climate Model Simulations

Christine Radermacher Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

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Lorenzo Tomassini Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

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Abstract

An extreme-value analysis of projected changes in heavy precipitation is carried out for an ensemble of eight high-resolution regional climate model simulations over the European domain. The consideration of several regional climate models that are forced by different global models allows for an assessment of the robustness of the results in terms of intersimulation agreement. The extreme-value statistical method is based on a model that includes time-dependent parameters. Summer and winter are examined separately. This allows for identifying and sharpening the understanding of physical processes inducing the changes in precipitation characteristics. Thermodynamic aspects of changes in heavy precipitation are discussed. Variables that are related to the process of precipitation formation, such as precipitable water and cloud liquid water, are examined. In this context, the scaling of changes in heavy precipitation and other thermodynamic quantities with changes in temperature is explored. The validity of a Clausius–Clapeyron scaling of heavy precipitation is assessed on regional scales. Significant regional and seasonal differences in trends of heavy precipitation and only a limited validity of the Clausius–Clapeyron scaling are found. In winter, enhanced moisture transport and storm-track intensity lead to an increase in heavy precipitation, especially over the northern parts of the European continent. In summer, the increase of precipitable water is less than that required to maintain the same probability for saturation over southern Europe, which results in negative trends of heavy precipitation in these regions.

Corresponding author address: Christine Radermacher, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstrasse 53, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany. E-mail: christine.radermacher@zmaw.de

Abstract

An extreme-value analysis of projected changes in heavy precipitation is carried out for an ensemble of eight high-resolution regional climate model simulations over the European domain. The consideration of several regional climate models that are forced by different global models allows for an assessment of the robustness of the results in terms of intersimulation agreement. The extreme-value statistical method is based on a model that includes time-dependent parameters. Summer and winter are examined separately. This allows for identifying and sharpening the understanding of physical processes inducing the changes in precipitation characteristics. Thermodynamic aspects of changes in heavy precipitation are discussed. Variables that are related to the process of precipitation formation, such as precipitable water and cloud liquid water, are examined. In this context, the scaling of changes in heavy precipitation and other thermodynamic quantities with changes in temperature is explored. The validity of a Clausius–Clapeyron scaling of heavy precipitation is assessed on regional scales. Significant regional and seasonal differences in trends of heavy precipitation and only a limited validity of the Clausius–Clapeyron scaling are found. In winter, enhanced moisture transport and storm-track intensity lead to an increase in heavy precipitation, especially over the northern parts of the European continent. In summer, the increase of precipitable water is less than that required to maintain the same probability for saturation over southern Europe, which results in negative trends of heavy precipitation in these regions.

Corresponding author address: Christine Radermacher, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstrasse 53, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany. E-mail: christine.radermacher@zmaw.de
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