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Causes of large projected increases in hurricane precipitation rates with global warming

Author(s): Liu, Maofeng; Vecchi, Gabriel A; Smith, James A; Knutson, Thomas R

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Abstract: Recent climate modeling studies point to an increase in tropical cyclone rainfall rates in response to climate warming. These studies indicate that the percentage increase in tropical cyclone rainfall rates often outpaces the increase in saturation specific humidity expected from the Clausius-Clapeyron relation (~7% °C−1). We explore the change in tropical cyclone rainfall rates over all oceans under global warming using a high-resolution climate model with the ability to simulate the entire intensity spectrum of tropical cyclones. Consistent with previous results, we find a robust increase of tropical cyclone rainfall rates. The percentage increase for inner-core tropical cyclone rainfall rates in our model is markedly larger than the Clausius-Clapeyron rate. However, when the impact of storm intensity is excluded, the rainfall rate increase shows a much better match with the Clausius-Clapeyron rate, suggesting that the “super Clausius-Clapeyron” scaling of rainfall rates with temperature increase is due to the warming-induced increase of tropical cyclone intensity. The increase of tropical cyclone intensity and environmental water vapor, in combination, explain the tropical cyclone rainfall rate increase under global warming.
Publication Date: 18-Oct-2019
Citation: Liu, Maofeng, Gabriel A. Vecchi, James A. Smith, and Thomas R. Knutson. "Causes of large projected increases in hurricane precipitation rates with global warming." npj Climate and Atmospheric Science 2, 38 (2019). doi:10.1038/s41612-019-0095-3.
DOI: doi:10.1038/s41612-019-0095-3
EISSN: 2397-3722
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: npj Climate and Atmospheric Science
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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