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Precipitation trends

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Position and orientation of the westerly jet determined Holocene rainfall patterns in China

Abstract .. Open access

Proxy-based reconstructions and modeling of Holocene spatiotemporal precipitation patterns for China and Mongolia have hitherto yielded contradictory results indicating that the basic mechanisms behind the East Asian Summer Monsoon and its interaction with the westerly jet stream remain poorly understood. We present quantitative reconstructions of Holocene precipitation derived from 101 fossil pollen records and analyse them with the help of a minimal empirical model. We show that the westerly jet-stream axis shifted gradually southward and became less tilted since the middle Holocene. This was tracked by the summer monsoon rain band resulting in an early-Holocene precipitation maximum over most of western China, a mid-Holocene maximum in north-central and northeastern China, and a late-Holocene maximum in southeastern China. Our results suggest that a correct simulation of the orientation and position of the westerly jet stream is crucial to the reliable prediction of precipitation patterns in China and Mongolia.

Larger Increases in More Extreme Local Precipitation Events as Climate Warms

 05 June 2019

Climate models project that extreme precipitation events will intensify in proportion to their intensity during the 21st century at large spatial scales. The identification of the causes of this phenomenon nevertheless remains tenuous. Using a large ensemble of North American regional climate simulations, we show that the more rapid intensification of more extreme events also appears as a robust feature at finer regional scales. The larger increases in more extreme events than in less extreme events are found to be primarily due to atmospheric circulation changes. Thermodynamically induced changes have relatively uniform effects across extreme events and regions. In contrast, circulation changes weaken moderate events over western interior regions of North America and enhance them elsewhere. The weakening effect decreases and even reverses for more extreme events, whereas there is further intensification over other parts of North America, creating an “intense gets intenser” pattern over most of the continent.

The above is something were watching unfold across the central US

Plain Language Summary
Climate models project that extreme precipitation events will intensify during the 21st century at large spatial scales, with several studies suggesting that the most extreme events will exhibit the highest rate of intensification. Identification of the causes of this phenomenon nevertheless remains tenuous, partly because estimating long‐term changes in precipitation extremes is difficult, particularly for precipitation extremes at impact‐relevant spatial scales. Robustly estimated changes in precipitation extremes at small spatial scales can only be obtained from large extreme precipitation data sets from large ensemble simulations. We employ a large ensemble regional climate simulation experiment performed for North America. The large volume of output from this experiment allows us to confidently obtain statistical evidence that precipitation intensification occurs more rapidly with warming for more extreme events at impact‐relevant spatial scales, and secondly, to determine the causes for this phenomenon. The effect of atmospheric moisture increases caused by greenhouse gas warming is found to be similar for extreme precipitation events of different intensities, ranging from 2‐ to 50‐year events. In contrast, atmospheric circulation change due to greenhouse gas warming tends to reduce the effect of the atmospheric moisture increases on less intense events rather than intensifying the effect on more extreme events.


U.S. hydrologic design standards insufficient due to large increases in frequency of rainfall extremes

Daniel B. Wright  Christopher D. Bosma  Tania Lopez‐Cantu
First published: 12 July 2019

Evidence for intensifying rainfall extremes has not translated into “actionable” information needed by engineers and risk analysts, who are often concerned with very rare events such as “100‐year storms.” Low signal‐to‐noise associated with such events makes trend detection nearly impossible using conventional methods. We use a regional aggregation approach to boost this signal‐to‐noise, showing that such storms have increased in frequency over much of the conterminous United States since 1950, a period characterized by widespread hydrologic infrastructure development. Most of these increases can be attributed to secular climate change rather than climate variability, and we demonstrate potentially serious implications for the reliability of existing and planned hydrologic infrastructure and analyses. Though trends in rainfall extremes have not yet translated into observable increases in flood risks, these results nonetheless point to the need for prompt updating of hydrologic design standards, taking into consideration recent changes in extreme rainfall properties.

Plain Language Summary
Numerous studies have shown that heavy rainfall in the United States and elsewhere is becoming more common and more severe in a warming climate. These studies have not shown, however, how the most extreme rainfall events are changing, since these storms are so rare that they are difficult to assess using conventional techniques, which generally focus on changes at individual geographic locations. We instead use a simple aggregation technique to “pool” multiple observations within a region. This “pooling” allows us to show that rainfall events that exceed common engineering design criteria, including 100‐year storms, have increased in frequency in most parts of the United States since 1950—a period of widespread infrastructure construction. We show that in most locations, these increases are likely due to climate warming. We also show that much of the existing and planned hydrologic infrastructure in the U.S. based on published rainfall design standards is and will continue to underperform its intended reliability due to these rainfall changes.

This paper is paywalled.... an frankly supports what we already know.


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