Heavy Precipitation Events in a Warmer Climate: Results from CMIP5 Models

Enrico Scoccimarro Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, and Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, Bologna, Italy

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Silvio Gualdi Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, and Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, Bologna, Italy

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Alessio Bellucci Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, Bologna, Italy

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Matteo Zampieri Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, Bologna, Italy

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Antonio Navarra Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, and Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, Bologna, Italy

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Abstract

In this work, the authors investigate possible changes in the distribution of heavy precipitation events under a warmer climate, using the results of a set of 20 climate models taking part in phase 5 of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Future changes are evaluated as the difference between the last four decades of the twenty-first century and the twentieth century, assuming the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario. As a measure of the width of the right tail of the precipitation distribution, the authors use the difference between the 99th and the 90th percentiles. Despite a slight tendency to underestimate the observed heavy precipitation, the considered CMIP5 models well represent the observed patterns in terms of the ensemble average, during both boreal summer and winter seasons for the 1997–2005 period. Future changes in average precipitation are consistent with previous findings based on models from phase 3 of CMIP (CMIP3). CMIP5 models show a projected increase for the end of the twenty-first century of the width of the right tail of the precipitation distribution, particularly pronounced over India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and central Africa during boreal summer, as well as over South America and southern Africa during boreal winter.

Corresponding author address: Enrico Scoccimarro, Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, Viale A. Moro 44, 40127 Bologna, Italy. E-mail: enrico.scoccimarro@bo.ingv.it

Abstract

In this work, the authors investigate possible changes in the distribution of heavy precipitation events under a warmer climate, using the results of a set of 20 climate models taking part in phase 5 of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Future changes are evaluated as the difference between the last four decades of the twenty-first century and the twentieth century, assuming the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario. As a measure of the width of the right tail of the precipitation distribution, the authors use the difference between the 99th and the 90th percentiles. Despite a slight tendency to underestimate the observed heavy precipitation, the considered CMIP5 models well represent the observed patterns in terms of the ensemble average, during both boreal summer and winter seasons for the 1997–2005 period. Future changes in average precipitation are consistent with previous findings based on models from phase 3 of CMIP (CMIP3). CMIP5 models show a projected increase for the end of the twenty-first century of the width of the right tail of the precipitation distribution, particularly pronounced over India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and central Africa during boreal summer, as well as over South America and southern Africa during boreal winter.

Corresponding author address: Enrico Scoccimarro, Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, Viale A. Moro 44, 40127 Bologna, Italy. E-mail: enrico.scoccimarro@bo.ingv.it
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