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      A global transition to flash droughts under climate change

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          Abstract

          Flash droughts have occurred frequently worldwide, with a rapid onset that challenges drought monitoring and forecasting capabilities. However, there is no consensus on whether flash droughts have become the new normal because slow droughts may also increase. In this study, we show that drought intensification rates have sped up over subseasonal time scales and that there has been a transition toward more flash droughts over 74% of the global regions identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Extreme Events during the past 64 years. The transition is associated with amplified anomalies of evapotranspiration and precipitation deficit caused by anthropogenic climate change. In the future, the transition is projected to expand to most land areas, with larger increases under higher-emission scenarios. These findings underscore the urgency for adapting to faster-onset droughts in a warmer future.

          Dry in a flash

          Are flash droughts, those that develop unusually rapidly unlike those that develop more slowly and typically have been considered the archetype, becoming the new normal? Yuan et al . show that droughts have begun to intensify more rapidly since the 1950s and that flash droughts have become more common over much of the world (see the Perspective by Walker and Van Loon). This trend, which makes drought monitoring and forecasting more difficult, is associated with greater evapotranspiration and precipitation deficits caused by anthropogenic climate change and is projected to expand to all land areas in the future. —HJS

          Abstract

          Anthropogenic climate change is driving a global transition toward more frequent flash droughts.

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          Most cited references53

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          An Overview of CMIP5 and the Experiment Design

          The fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) will produce a state-of-the- art multimodel dataset designed to advance our knowledge of climate variability and climate change. Researchers worldwide are analyzing the model output and will produce results likely to underlie the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Unprecedented in scale and attracting interest from all major climate modeling groups, CMIP5 includes “long term” simulations of twentieth-century climate and projections for the twenty-first century and beyond. Conventional atmosphere–ocean global climate models and Earth system models of intermediate complexity are for the first time being joined by more recently developed Earth system models under an experiment design that allows both types of models to be compared to observations on an equal footing. Besides the longterm experiments, CMIP5 calls for an entirely new suite of “near term” simulations focusing on recent decades and the future to year 2035. These “decadal predictions” are initialized based on observations and will be used to explore the predictability of climate and to assess the forecast system's predictive skill. The CMIP5 experiment design also allows for participation of stand-alone atmospheric models and includes a variety of idealized experiments that will improve understanding of the range of model responses found in the more complex and realistic simulations. An exceptionally comprehensive set of model output is being collected and made freely available to researchers through an integrated but distributed data archive. For researchers unfamiliar with climate models, the limitations of the models and experiment design are described.
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            The ERA5 Global Reanalysis

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              Is Open Access

              Overview of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) experimental design and organization

              By coordinating the design and distribution of global climate model simulations of the past, current, and future climate, the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) has become one of the foundational elements of climate science. However, the need to address an ever-expanding range of scientific questions arising from more and more research communities has made it necessary to revise the organization of CMIP. After a long and wide community consultation, a new and more federated structure has been put in place. It consists of three major elements: (1) a handful of common experiments, the DECK (Diagnostic, Evaluation and Characterization of Klima) and CMIP historical simulations (1850–near present) that will maintain continuity and help document basic characteristics of models across different phases of CMIP; (2) common standards, coordination, infrastructure, and documentation that will facilitate the distribution of model outputs and the characterization of the model ensemble; and (3) an ensemble of CMIP-Endorsed Model Intercomparison Projects (MIPs) that will be specific to a particular phase of CMIP (now CMIP6) and that will build on the DECK and CMIP historical simulations to address a large range of specific questions and fill the scientific gaps of the previous CMIP phases. The DECK and CMIP historical simulations, together with the use of CMIP data standards, will be the entry cards for models participating in CMIP. Participation in CMIP6-Endorsed MIPs by individual modelling groups will be at their own discretion and will depend on their scientific interests and priorities. With the Grand Science Challenges of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) as its scientific backdrop, CMIP6 will address three broad questions: – How does the Earth system respond to forcing? – What are the origins and consequences of systematic model biases? – How can we assess future climate changes given internal climate variability, predictability, and uncertainties in scenarios? This CMIP6 overview paper presents the background and rationale for the new structure of CMIP, provides a detailed description of the DECK and CMIP6 historical simulations, and includes a brief introduction to the 21 CMIP6-Endorsed MIPs.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Science
                Science
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                0036-8075
                1095-9203
                April 14 2023
                April 14 2023
                : 380
                : 6641
                : 187-191
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Hydrology and Water Resources, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, Jiangsu, China.
                [2 ]Key Laboratory of Hydrometeorological Disaster Mechanism and Warning of Ministry of Water Resources/Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, Jiangsu, China.
                [3 ]Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter EX1 3PB, UK.
                [4 ]Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK.
                [5 ]Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
                Article
                10.1126/science.abn6301
                37053316
                a691ddac-e8ef-41ad-a3d5-0285a3ebfdc6
                © 2023

                Free to read

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