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      A Mathematical Framework for Analysis of Water Tracers. Part II: Understanding Large-Scale Perturbations in the Hydrological Cycle due to CO2 Doubling

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      Journal of Climate

      American Meteorological Society

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          Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrologic cycle.

          What can we say about changes in the hydrologic cycle on 50-year timescales when we cannot predict rainfall next week? Eventually, perhaps, a great deal: the overall climate response to increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases may prove much simpler and more predictable than the chaos of short-term weather. Quantifying the diversity of possible responses is essential for any objective, probability-based climate forecast, and this task will require a new generation of climate modelling experiments, systematically exploring the range of model behaviour that is consistent with observations. It will be substantially harder to quantify the range of possible changes in the hydrologic cycle than in global-mean temperature, both because the observations are less complete and because the physical constraints are weaker.
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            Global Warming and the Weakening of the Tropical Circulation

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              Detection of human influence on twentieth-century precipitation trends.

              Human influence on climate has been detected in surface air temperature, sea level pressure, free atmospheric temperature, tropopause height and ocean heat content. Human-induced changes have not, however, previously been detected in precipitation at the global scale, partly because changes in precipitation in different regions cancel each other out and thereby reduce the strength of the global average signal. Models suggest that anthropogenic forcing should have caused a small increase in global mean precipitation and a latitudinal redistribution of precipitation, increasing precipitation at high latitudes, decreasing precipitation at sub-tropical latitudes, and possibly changing the distribution of precipitation within the tropics by shifting the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. Here we compare observed changes in land precipitation during the twentieth century averaged over latitudinal bands with changes simulated by fourteen climate models. We show that anthropogenic forcing has had a detectable influence on observed changes in average precipitation within latitudinal bands, and that these changes cannot be explained by internal climate variability or natural forcing. We estimate that anthropogenic forcing contributed significantly to observed increases in precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, drying in the Northern Hemisphere subtropics and tropics, and moistening in the Southern Hemisphere subtropics and deep tropics. The observed changes, which are larger than estimated from model simulations, may have already had significant effects on ecosystems, agriculture and human health in regions that are sensitive to changes in precipitation, such as the Sahel.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Climate
                J. Climate
                American Meteorological Society
                0894-8755
                1520-0442
                September 2016
                September 2016
                : 29
                : 18
                : 6765-6782
                Article
                10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0293.1
                © 2016

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