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Claire Burke and Peter Stott

Abstract

The East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) is important for bringing rainfall to large areas of China. Historically, variations in the EASM have had major impacts including flooding and drought. The authors present an analysis of the impact of anthropogenic climate change on EASM rainfall in eastern China using a newly updated attribution system. The results suggest that anthropogenic climate change has led to an overall decrease in total monsoon rainfall over the past 65 years and an increased number of dry days. However, the model also predicts that anthropogenic forcings have caused the most extreme heavy rainfall events to become shorter in duration and more intense. With the potential for future changes in aerosol and greenhouse gas emissions, historical trends in monsoon rainfall may not be indicative of future changes, although extreme rainfall is projected to increase over East Asia with continued warming in the region.

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Claire Burke, Peter Stott, Andrew Ciavarella, and Ying Sun
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Shuangmei Ma, Tianjun Zhou, Dáithí A. Stone, Debbie Polson, Aiguo Dai, Peter A. Stott, Hans von Storch, Yun Qian, Claire Burke, Peili Wu, Liwei Zou, and Andrew Ciavarella

Abstract

Changes in precipitation characteristics directly affect society through their impacts on drought and floods, hydro-dams, and urban drainage systems. Global warming increases the water holding capacity of the atmosphere and thus the risk of heavy precipitation. Here, daily precipitation records from over 700 Chinese stations from 1956 to 2005 are analyzed. The results show a significant shift from light to heavy precipitation over eastern China. An optimal fingerprinting analysis of simulations from 11 climate models driven by different combinations of historical anthropogenic (greenhouse gases, aerosols, land use, and ozone) and natural (volcanic and solar) forcings indicates that anthropogenic forcing on climate, including increases in greenhouse gases (GHGs), has had a detectable contribution to the observed shift toward heavy precipitation. Some evidence is found that anthropogenic aerosols (AAs) partially offset the effect of the GHG forcing, resulting in a weaker shift toward heavy precipitation in simulations that include the AA forcing than in simulations with only the GHG forcing. In addition to the thermodynamic mechanism, strengthened water vapor transport from the adjacent oceans and by midlatitude westerlies, resulting mainly from GHG-induced warming, also favors heavy precipitation over eastern China. Further GHG-induced warming is predicted to lead to an increasing shift toward heavy precipitation, leading to increased urban flooding and posing a significant challenge for mega-cities in China in the coming decades. Future reductions in AA emissions resulting from air pollution controls could exacerbate this tendency toward heavier precipitation.

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Cheng Qian, Jun Wang, Siyan Dong, Hong Yin, Claire Burke, Andrew Ciavarella, Buwen Dong, Nicolas Freychet, Fraser C. Lott, and Simon F. B. Tett
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Cecile B. Menard, Richard Essery, Gerhard Krinner, Gabriele Arduini, Paul Bartlett, Aaron Boone, Claire Brutel-Vuilmet, Eleanor Burke, Matthias Cuntz, Yongjiu Dai, Bertrand Decharme, Emanuel Dutra, Xing Fang, Charles Fierz, Yeugeniy Gusev, Stefan Hagemann, Vanessa Haverd, Hyungjun Kim, Matthieu Lafaysse, Thomas Marke, Olga Nasonova, Tomoko Nitta, Masashi Niwano, John Pomeroy, Gerd Schädler, Vladimir A. Semenov, Tatiana Smirnova, Ulrich Strasser, Sean Swenson, Dmitry Turkov, Nander Wever, and Hua Yuan

Abstract

Twenty-seven models participated in the Earth System Model–Snow Model Intercomparison Project (ESM-SnowMIP), the most data-rich MIP dedicated to snow modeling. Our findings do not support the hypothesis advanced by previous snow MIPs: evaluating models against more variables and providing evaluation datasets extended temporally and spatially does not facilitate identification of key new processes requiring improvement to model snow mass and energy budgets, even at point scales. In fact, the same modeling issues identified by previous snow MIPs arose: albedo is a major source of uncertainty, surface exchange parameterizations are problematic, and individual model performance is inconsistent. This lack of progress is attributed partly to the large number of human errors that led to anomalous model behavior and to numerous resubmissions. It is unclear how widespread such errors are in our field and others; dedicated time and resources will be needed to tackle this issue to prevent highly sophisticated models and their research outputs from being vulnerable because of avoidable human mistakes. The design of and the data available to successive snow MIPs were also questioned. Evaluation of models against bulk snow properties was found to be sufficient for some but inappropriate for more complex snow models whose skills at simulating internal snow properties remained untested. Discussions between the authors of this paper on the purpose of MIPs revealed varied, and sometimes contradictory, motivations behind their participation. These findings started a collaborative effort to adapt future snow MIPs to respond to the diverse needs of the community.

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