AbstractClimate change will impact both mean and extreme precipitation, having potentially significant consequences on water resources. The implementation of efficient adaptation measures must rely on the development of reliable projections of future precipitation and on the assessment of their related uncertainty. Natural climate variability is a key uncertainty component, which can result in apparent decadal trends that may be greater or lower than the long-term underlying anthropogenic climate change trend. The goal of the present study is to assess how natural climate variability affects the ability to detect the climate change signal for mean and extreme precipitation. Annual and seasonal total precipitation are used as indicators of the mean, whereas annual and seasonal maximum daily precipitation are used as indicators of extremes. This is done using the CanESM2 50-member and CESM1 40-member large ensembles of simulations over the 1950–2100 period. At the local scale, results indicate that natural climate variability will dominate the uncertainty for annual and seasonal extreme precipitation going up to the end of the century in many parts of the world. The climate change signal can, however, be reliably detected much earlier at the regional scale for extreme precipitation. In the case of annual and seasonal total precipitation, the climate change signal can be reliably detected at the local scale without resorting to a regional analysis. Nonetheless, natural climate variability can impede the detection of the anthropogenic climate change signal until the middle to late century in many parts of the world for mean and extreme precipitation.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jun 28, 2018
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