AbstractThe IPCC fifth assessment report highlighted large uncertainty in European precipitation changes in the coming century. This paper investigates the sources of inter-model differences using CMIP5 model European precipitation data. The contribution of atmospheric circulation to differences in precipitation trends is investigated by applying cluster analysis to daily mean sea level pressure (MSLP) data. The resulting classification is used to reconstruct monthly precipitation time series, thereby isolating the component of precipitation variability directly related to atmospheric circulation. Reconstructed observed precipitation, and reconstructions of simulated historical and projection data, are well correlated with the original precipitation series, showing that circulation variability accounts for a substantial fraction of European precipitation variability. Removing the reconstructed precipitation from the original precipitation leaves a residual component related to non-circulation effects (and any small remaining circulation effects). Inter-model spread in residual future European precipitation trends is substantially reduced compared to the spread of the original precipitation trends. Uncertainty in future atmospheric circulation accounts for more than half of the inter-model variance in 21st century precipitation trends for winter months for both northern and southern Europe. Furthermore, a substantial part of this variance is related to different forced dynamical responses in different models, and is therefore potentially reducible. These results highlight the importance of understanding future changes in atmospheric dynamics in achieving more robust projections of regional climate change. Finally, the possible dynamical mechanisms that may drive the future differences in regional circulation and precipitation are illustrated by examining simulated teleconnections with tropical precipitation.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Sep 29, 2017
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