AbstractKnowledge of the range of precipitation variability and extremes is restricted in regions such as Australia where instrumental records are short and paleoclimatic records are limited in spatial and temporal extent and resolution. In such comparatively data poor regions, there is limited context for understanding the statistical unusualness of recently observed extremes events, such as heavy rain and drought, and the influence of stochastic and anthropogenic forcings on their magnitude. This study attempts to further understandings of the range of forced and unforced variability using CMIP5 climate models. Focusing on extremes in the magnitude of monthly, seasonal and annual precipitation, the distribution of instrumental-period observed precipitation in various Australian regions is compared to simulated precipitation in historical experiments, and various long experiment (pre-industrial control and Last Millennium) and anthropogenically-forced simulations of the 21st Century (RCP2.6 and RCP8.5). There is no systematic increase in the magnitude of simulated extremes corresponding to the length of model simulations, although many realizations reveal higher magnitude extremes compared to observed, suggesting that the duration of the instrumental record may not capture the potential severity of stochastically driven extremes. A coherent increase in both wet and dry extremes is simulated throughout Australian regions in high greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, demonstrating a forced hydrological response.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Oct 5, 2017
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