Featured: Observed and Projected Changes to the Precipitation Annual Cycle

Journal of Climate | Marvel et al. [2017]


Anthropogenic climate change is predicted to cause spatial and temporal shifts in precipitation patterns. These may be apparent in changes to the annual cycle of zonal mean precipitation (P). Trends in the amplitude and phase of the P annual cycle in two long-term, global satellite datasets are broadly similar. Model-derived fingerprints of externally forced changes to the amplitude and phase of the P seasonal cycle, combined with these observations, enable a formal detection and attribution analysis. Observed amplitude changes are inconsistent with model estimates of internal variability but not attributable to the model-predicted response to external forcing. This mismatch between observed and predicted amplitude changes is consistent with the sustained La NiƱa-like conditions that characterize the recent slowdown in the rise of the global mean temperature. However, observed changes to the annual cycle phase do not seem to be driven by this recent hiatus. These changes are consistent with model estimates of forced changes, inconsistent (in one observational dataset) with estimates of internal variability, and may suggest the emergence of an externally forced signal.

Full text can be found here.


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