Category Archives: precipitation

What have global temperatures ever done for us?

Much attention is rightly given to changes in global mean surface temperature – it is the key metric for assessing how our climate is changing and evaluating mitigation strategies. However, no-one directly experiences changes in global mean temperature – it is only through local variations that changes in climate are felt.

So, what have global temperatures ever done for us? Continue reading What have global temperatures ever done for us?

Projected changes of precipitation and temperature extremes

Model projections of heavy precipitation and temperature extremes include large uncertainties. However, disagreement between individual simulations primarily arises from internal variability, whereas models agree remarkably well on the forced signal.

Post based on Fischer et al., 2014, Geophys. Res. Lett.
Continue reading Projected changes of precipitation and temperature extremes

Wet get drier (eventually)?

A prevailing paradigm of how rainfall patterns will change on a warming Earth is that the hydrological cycle strengthens causing wet regions to get wetter and dry regions to get drier.

However, this is not always the case: Hawkins, Joshi & Frame (2014) highlight one particular effect – the movement of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) – as a key long-term driver of rainfall changes that do not follow this ‘wet get wetter’ paradigm. Continue reading Wet get drier (eventually)?

When to use uncertain climate forecasts

Climate models produce projections of changes in climate from the present day, but these projections have a range, or spread. A simple measure of the confidence in a forecast would be the signal-to-noise ratio, r, of the size of the projected change to the spread around that change. An important question is ‘when does the spread in the forecasts become so large that the forecast should not be used’? Continue reading When to use uncertain climate forecasts

Consensus in precipitation projections

In the AR4, the IPCC presented this figure showing the consensus in precipitation projections for the 21st century, designed to be of use to planning for adaptation and mitigation. The coloured regions show where changes are likely to occur. My interest is in the white areas where models cannot agree on the sign of the change. This could mean that half the models predict a large drying and half predict a large increase in rainfall. But, it could also just mean that the changes are small, but that the sign is uncertain. Continue reading Consensus in precipitation projections