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K. Ya Vinnikov, P. Ya Groisman, and K. M. Lugina

Abstract

New data are presented on the changes of mean global surface air temperature and annual precipitation over extratropical continents of the Northern Hemisphere. Global warming occurred during the last century with a mean trend of 0.5°C/100 years. It is shown that for the same period the annual precipitation over the land in the 35°–70°N zone increased by 6%. The observed variations of precipitation coincide with the results of general circulation modeling of doubled CO2 equilibrium climate change by sign but contradict by scale.

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P. Ya. Groisman, V. V. Koknaeva, T. A. Belokrylova, and T. R. Karl

Documenting the instrumentally observed precipitation climate record presents many challenges because scientists must rely on data from stations that undergo many changes in the course of their operation. Detecting changes from such networks is essential for adequate understanding of climate and global change. As an illustrative example, we review the history of the instrumentally observed precipitation in the USSR. In the USSR, similar to other countries, numerous problems must be addressed before reliable estimates of precipitation can be made. The types of problems range from inadequate and changing exposures of raingages to varying sampling periods used to measure precipitation. Using information about measurement procedures, instrument intercomparisons, and field studies, various methods have been devised to overcome biases in the measurements.

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Xiaogang Shi, Stephen J. Déry, Pavel Ya. Groisman, and Dennis P. Lettenmaier

Abstract

Using the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) land surface model forced with gridded climatic observations, the authors reproduce spatial and temporal variations of snow cover extent (SCE) reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northern Hemisphere weekly satellite SCE data. Both observed and modeled North American and Eurasian snow cover in the pan-Arctic have statistically significant negative trends from April through June over the period 1972–2006. To diagnose the causes of the pan-Arctic SCE recession, the authors identify the role of surface energy fluxes generated in VIC and assess the relationships between 15 hydroclimatic indicators and NOAA SCE observations over each snow-covered sensitivity zone (SCSZ) for both North America and Eurasia. The authors find that surface net radiation (SNR) provides the primary energy source and sensible heat (SH) plays a secondary role in observed changes of SCE. As compared with SNR and SH, latent heat has only a minor influence on snow cover changes. In addition, these changes in surface energy fluxes resulting in the pan-Arctic snow cover recession are mainly driven by statistically significant decreases in snow surface albedo and increased air temperatures (surface air temperature, daily maximum temperature, and daily minimum temperature), as well as statistically significant increased atmospheric water vapor pressure. Contributions of other hydroclimate variables that the authors analyzed (downward shortwave radiation, precipitation, diurnal temperature range, wind speed, and cloud cover) are not significant for observed SCE changes in either the North American or Eurasian SCSZs.

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D. R. Easterling, J. L. Evans, P. Ya. Groisman, T. R. Karl, K. E. Kunkel, and P. Ambenje

Variations and trends in extreme climate events have only recently received much attention. Exponentially increasing economic losses, coupled with an increase in deaths due to these events, have focused attention on the possibility that these events are increasing in frequency. One of the major problems in examining the climate record for changes in extremes is a lack of high-quality, long-term data. In some areas of the world increases in extreme events are apparent, while in others there appears to be a decline. Based on this information increased ability to monitor and detect multidecadal variations and trends is critical to begin to detect any observed changes and understand their origins.

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Pavel Ya. Groisman, Elizabeth A. Clark, Vladimir M. Kattsov, Dennis P. Lettenmaier, Irina N. Sokolik, Vladimir B. Aizen, Oliver Cartus, Jiquan Chen, Susan Conard, John Katzenberger, Olga Krankina, Jaakko Kukkonen, Toshinobu Machida, Shamil Maksyutov, Dennis Ojima, Jiaguo Qi, Vladimir E. Romanovsky, Maurizio Santoro, Christiane C. Schmullius, Alexander I. Shiklomanov, Kou Shimoyama, Herman H. Shugart, Jacquelyn K. Shuman, Mikhail A. Sofiev, Anatoly I. Sukhinin, Charles Vörösmarty, Donald Walker, and Eric F. Wood

Northern Eurasia, the largest landmass in the northern extratropics, accounts for ~20% of the global land area. However, little is known about how the biogeochemical cycles, energy and water cycles, and human activities specific to this carbon-rich, cold region interact with global climate. A major concern is that changes in the distribution of land-based life, as well as its interactions with the environment, may lead to a self-reinforcing cycle of accelerated regional and global warming. With this as its motivation, the Northern Eurasian Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI) was formed in 2004 to better understand and quantify feedbacks between northern Eurasian and global climates. The first group of NEESPI projects has mostly focused on assembling regional databases, organizing improved environmental monitoring of the region, and studying individual environmental processes. That was a starting point to addressing emerging challenges in the region related to rapidly and simultaneously changing climate, environmental, and societal systems. More recently, the NEESPI research focus has been moving toward integrative studies, including the development of modeling capabilities to project the future state of climate, environment, and societies in the NEESPI domain. This effort will require a high level of integration of observation programs, process studies, and modeling across disciplines.

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Michael A. Rawlins, Michael Steele, Marika M. Holland, Jennifer C. Adam, Jessica E. Cherry, Jennifer A. Francis, Pavel Ya Groisman, Larry D. Hinzman, Thomas G. Huntington, Douglas L. Kane, John S. Kimball, Ron Kwok, Richard B. Lammers, Craig M. Lee, Dennis P. Lettenmaier, Kyle C. McDonald, Erika Podest, Jonathan W. Pundsack, Bert Rudels, Mark C. Serreze, Alexander Shiklomanov, Øystein Skagseth, Tara J. Troy, Charles J. Vörösmarty, Mark Wensnahan, Eric F. Wood, Rebecca Woodgate, Daqing Yang, Ke Zhang, and Tingjun Zhang

Abstract

Hydrologic cycle intensification is an expected manifestation of a warming climate. Although positive trends in several global average quantities have been reported, no previous studies have documented broad intensification across elements of the Arctic freshwater cycle (FWC). In this study, the authors examine the character and quantitative significance of changes in annual precipitation, evapotranspiration, and river discharge across the terrestrial pan-Arctic over the past several decades from observations and a suite of coupled general circulation models (GCMs). Trends in freshwater flux and storage derived from observations across the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas are also described.

With few exceptions, precipitation, evapotranspiration, and river discharge fluxes from observations and the GCMs exhibit positive trends. Significant positive trends above the 90% confidence level, however, are not present for all of the observations. Greater confidence in the GCM trends arises through lower interannual variability relative to trend magnitude. Put another way, intrinsic variability in the observations tends to limit confidence in trend robustness. Ocean fluxes are less certain, primarily because of the lack of long-term observations. Where available, salinity and volume flux data suggest some decrease in saltwater inflow to the Barents Sea (i.e., a decrease in freshwater outflow) in recent decades. A decline in freshwater storage across the central Arctic Ocean and suggestions that large-scale circulation plays a dominant role in freshwater trends raise questions as to whether Arctic Ocean freshwater flows are intensifying. Although oceanic fluxes of freshwater are highly variable and consistent trends are difficult to verify, the other components of the Arctic FWC do show consistent positive trends over recent decades. The broad-scale increases provide evidence that the Arctic FWC is experiencing intensification. Efforts that aim to develop an adequate observation system are needed to reduce uncertainties and to detect and document ongoing changes in all system components for further evidence of Arctic FWC intensification.

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