Atmospheric Sciences Editors' Highlights

Understanding Tropical Rainfall Projections Under Climate Change

A new mechanism explains changes in the probability distribution of tropical rainfall, which is not expected to change uniformly in a warming climate.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters


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In the future, dry regions in the tropics are expected to get drier and wet regions are expected to become wetter. This unevenness is not restricted to rainfall spatial distribution, but to timing as well. Previous proposed mechanisms to explain these projections, decomposed the rainfall changes onto moisture changes and atmospheric circulation changes. However, projections for circulation changes have a much larger uncertainty than moisture changes.

Zhang and Fueglistaler [2019] propose a new mechanism to explain changes in the probability distribution of rainfall under a warming climate. This explanation builds on previous proposed mechanisms, improving the understanding of how this happens and is independent of changes of the atmospheric circulation.

Citation: Y., Zhang, & Fueglistaler, S. [2019]. Mechanism for increasing tropical rainfall unevenness with global warming. Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 14836–14843. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL086058

—Suzana Camargo, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters

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