Autumn Precipitation Trends over Southern Hemisphere Midlatitudes as Simulated by CMIP5 Models

Ariaan Purich, Tim Cowan, Seung-Ki Min, Wenju Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In recent decades, Southern Hemisphere midlatitude regions such as southern Africa, southeastern Australia, and southern Chile have experienced a reduction in austral autumn precipitation; the cause of which is poorly understood. This study focuses on the ability of global climate models that form part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 to simulate these trends, their relationship with extratropical and subtropical processes, and implications for future precipitation changes. Models underestimate both the historical autumn poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zone and the positive southern annular mode (SAM) trend. The multimodel ensemble (MME) is also unable to capture the spatial pattern of observed precipitation trends across semiarid midlatitude regions. However, in temperate regions that are located farther poleward such as southern Chile, the MME simulates observed precipitation declines. The MME shows a strong consensus in twenty-first-century declines in autumn precipitation across southern Chile in both the medium-low and high representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios and across southern Africa in the high RCP scenario, but little change across southeastern Australia. Projecting a strong positive SAM trend and continued subtropical dry-zone expansion, the models converge on large SAM and dry-zone-expansion-induced precipitation declines across southern midlatitudes. In these regions, the strength of future precipitation trends is proportional to the strength of modeled trends in these phenomena, suggesting that unabated greenhouse gas-induced climate change will have a large impact on austral autumn precipitation in such midlatitude regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8341-8356
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume26
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Southern Hemisphere
  • Annular mode
  • Hadley circulation
  • Precipitation
  • Climate change
  • General circulation models
  • IPCC AR4 MODELS
  • ANNULAR MODE
  • CLIMATE-CHANGE
  • AUSTRALIAN RAINFALL
  • GLOBAL PRECIPITATION
  • SURFACE-TEMPERATURE
  • HADLEY CIRCULATION
  • REANALYSIS PROJECT
  • POLEWARD EXPANSION
  • SUBTROPICAL RIDGE

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