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Model-Based Estimation of Dynamic Effect on Twenty-First-Century Precipitation for Swiss River Basins

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 MeteoSwiss, Locarno, Switzerland
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Abstract

Projections of twenty-first-century precipitation for seven Swiss river basins are generated by linking high-resolution (2 km × 2 km) radar-estimated precipitation observations to a global climate model (GCM) via synoptic weather patterns. The use of synoptic patterns characterizes the effect of changes in large-scale circulation, or dynamic effects, on precipitation. In each basin observed total daily precipitation received during advective synoptic patterns is shown to be dependent on the basin’s general topographic aspect. Across all basins convective synoptic patterns follow the same trend in total daily precipitation with cyclonic patterns consistently producing a larger amount of precipitation than anticyclonic patterns. Identification of synoptic patterns from a GCM for the twenty-first century [Community Climate System Model, version 3.0, (CCSM3)] shows increasing frequency of anticyclonic synoptic patterns, decreasing frequency of cyclonic patterns, and constant frequency of advective patterns over Switzerland. When coupled with observed radar-estimated precipitation for each synoptic pattern, the changes in synoptic pattern frequencies result in an approximately 10%–15% decrease in decadal precipitation over the course of the twenty-first century for seven Swiss river basins. The study results also show an insignificant change in the future (twenty-first century) probability of exceeding the current (2000–08) 95th quantile of total precipitation. The lack of a trend in exceeding the 95th quantile of precipitation in combination with a decreasing trend in total precipitation provides evidence that dynamic effects will not result in increased frequency of heavy precipitation events, but that heavy precipitation will account for a greater proportion of total precipitation in Swiss river basins by the end of the twenty-first century.

Corresponding author address: James V. Rudolph, University of Colorado, ATOC, UCB 311, Boulder, CO 80309-0311. E-mail: james.rudolph@colorado.edu

Abstract

Projections of twenty-first-century precipitation for seven Swiss river basins are generated by linking high-resolution (2 km × 2 km) radar-estimated precipitation observations to a global climate model (GCM) via synoptic weather patterns. The use of synoptic patterns characterizes the effect of changes in large-scale circulation, or dynamic effects, on precipitation. In each basin observed total daily precipitation received during advective synoptic patterns is shown to be dependent on the basin’s general topographic aspect. Across all basins convective synoptic patterns follow the same trend in total daily precipitation with cyclonic patterns consistently producing a larger amount of precipitation than anticyclonic patterns. Identification of synoptic patterns from a GCM for the twenty-first century [Community Climate System Model, version 3.0, (CCSM3)] shows increasing frequency of anticyclonic synoptic patterns, decreasing frequency of cyclonic patterns, and constant frequency of advective patterns over Switzerland. When coupled with observed radar-estimated precipitation for each synoptic pattern, the changes in synoptic pattern frequencies result in an approximately 10%–15% decrease in decadal precipitation over the course of the twenty-first century for seven Swiss river basins. The study results also show an insignificant change in the future (twenty-first century) probability of exceeding the current (2000–08) 95th quantile of total precipitation. The lack of a trend in exceeding the 95th quantile of precipitation in combination with a decreasing trend in total precipitation provides evidence that dynamic effects will not result in increased frequency of heavy precipitation events, but that heavy precipitation will account for a greater proportion of total precipitation in Swiss river basins by the end of the twenty-first century.

Corresponding author address: James V. Rudolph, University of Colorado, ATOC, UCB 311, Boulder, CO 80309-0311. E-mail: james.rudolph@colorado.edu
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