AbstractSoil moisture-atmosphere interactions play a key role in modulating climate variability and extremes. In this study, we investigate how soil moisture-atmosphere coupling may affect future extreme events, particularly the role of projected soil moisture in modulating the frequency and maximum duration of hot-spells over North America, using the fifth generation Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM5). With this objective, CRCM5 simulations, driven by two coupled general circulation models (MPI-ESM and CanESM2), are performed with and without soil moisture-atmosphere interactions for current (1981-2010) and future (2071-2100) climates over North America, for Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 4.5 and 8.5. Analysis indicates that, in future climate, the soil moisture-temperature coupling regions, located over the Great Plains in current climate, will expand further north, including large parts of central Canada. Results also indicate that soil moisture-atmosphere interactions will play an important role in modulating temperature extremes in the future by contributing more than 50% to the projected increase in hot-spell days over the southern Great Plains and parts of central Canada, especially for the RCP4.5 scenario. This higher contribution of soil moisture-atmosphere interactions to the future increases in hot spell days for RCP4.5 is related to the fact that the projected decrease in soil moisture led the soil to remain in a transitional regime between wet and dry state which are conducive to soil moisture-atmosphere coupling. For RCP8.5 scenario, on the other hand, the future projected soil state over the southern U.S. and northern Mexico is too dry to have an impact on evapotranspiration and therefore on temperature.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 28, 2017
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