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Mechanism for Increasing Tropical Rainfall Unevenness With Global Warming

Author(s): Zhang, Yi; Fueglistaler, Stephan

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Abstract: Global climate models predict that tropical rainfall will be distributed more unevenly with global warming; that is, dry regions or months will get drier and wet regions or months will get wetter. Previous mechanisms such as “dry‐get‐drier, wet‐get‐wetter”; “rich‐get‐richer”; or “upped‐ante” focus on the spatial pattern of rainfall changes rather than the changes in probability distribution. Here, we present a quantitative explanation of the warming‐induced probability distribution change of rainfall: Subcloud moist static energy (MSE) gradients are amplified by Clausius‐Clapeyron relationship given roughly uniform warming and constant relative humidity. Therefore, the present‐day wet regions will become more competitive for convection in a warmer world. Though changes in the atmospheric circulation pattern can enhance rainfall in one place and suppress rainfall in another, our results show that the total effect should be a decrease in the area of active convection even with uniform warming.
Publication Date: 4-Dec-2019
Electronic Publication Date: 21-Dec-2019
Citation: Zhang, Yi, and Stephan Fueglistaler. "Mechanism for Increasing Tropical Rainfall Unevenness With Global Warming." Geophysical Research Letters 46, no. 24 (2019): 14836-14843. doi: 10.1029/2019GL086058.
DOI: doi:10.1029/2019GL086058
ISSN: 0094-8276
EISSN: 1944-8007
Pages: 14836 - 14843
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Geophysical Research Letters
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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