Discovery Guides Areas


Climate Models and Global Climate Change
(Released December 2007)

  by Christopher Readinger  


Key Citations




Key Citations Short Format Full Format
  1. Attribution of observed surface humidity changes to human influence

    Katharine M. Willett, Nathan P. Gillett, Philip D. Jones and Peter W. Thorne.

    Nature, Vol. 449, No. 7163, Oct 2007, pp. 710-712.

    Water vapour is the most important contributor to the natural greenhouse effect, and the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere is expected to increase under conditions of greenhouse-gas-induced warming, leading to a significant feedback on anthropogenic climate change. Theoretical and modelling studies predict that relative humidity will remain approximately constant at the global scale as the climate warms, leading to an increase in specific humidity. Although significant increases in surface specific humidity have been identified in several regions, and on the global scale in non-homogenized data, it has not been shown whether these changes are due to natural or human influences on climate. Here we use a new quality-controlled and homogenized gridded observational data set of surface humidity, with output from a coupled climate model, to identify and explore the causes of changes in surface specific humidity over the late twentieth century. We identify a significant global-scale increase in surface specific humidity that is attributable mainly to human influence. Specific humidity is found to have increased in response to rising temperatures, with relative humidity remaining approximately constant. These changes may have important implications, because atmospheric humidity is a key variable in determining the geographical distribution and maximum intensity of precipitation, the potential maximum intensity of tropical cyclones, and human heat stress, and has important effects on the biosphere and surface hydrology.

  2. Climate simulations for 1880-2003 with GISS modelE

    J. Hansen, M. Sato, R. Ruedy, et al.

    Climate Dynamics, Vol. 29, No. 7-8, Dec 2007, pp. 661-696.

    We carry out climate simulations for 1880-2003 with GISS modelE driven by ten measured or estimated climate forcings. An ensemble of climate model runs is carried out for each forcing acting individually and for all forcing mechanisms acting together. We compare side-by-side simulated climate change for each forcing, all forcings, observations, unforced variability among model ensemble members, and, if available, observed variability. Discrepancies between observations and simulations with all forcings are due to model deficiencies, inaccurate or incomplete forcings, and imperfect observations. Although there are notable discrepancies between model and observations, the fidelity is sufficient to encourage use of the model for simulations of future climate change. By using a fixed well-documented model and accurately defining the 1880-2003 forcings, we aim to provide a benchmark against which the effect of improvements in the model, climate forcings, and observations can be tested. Principal model deficiencies include unrealistically weak tropical El Nino-like variability and a poor distribution of sea ice, with too much sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere and too little in the Southern Hemisphere. Greatest uncertainties in the forcings are the temporal and spatial variations of anthropogenic aerosols and their indirect effects on clouds.

  3. Dynamical greenhouse-plus feedback and polar warming amplification. Part II: meridional and vertical asymmetries of the global warming

    Ming Cai and Jianhua Lu.

    Climate Dynamics, Vol. 29, No. 4, Sep 2007, pp. 375-391.

    This paper examines several prominent thermodynamic and dynamic factors responsible for the meridional and vertical warming asymmetries using a moist coupled atmosphere-surface radiative transportive four-box climate model. A coupled atmosphere-surface feedback analysis is formulated to isolate the direct response to an anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing from individual local feedbacks (water vapor, evaporation, surface sensible heat flux, and ice-albedo), and from the non-local dynamical feedback. Both the direct response and response to water vapor feedback are stronger in low latitudes. The joint effect of the ice-albedo and dynamical greenhouse-plus feedbacks acts to amplify the high latitude surface warming whereas both the evaporation and dynamical greenhouse-minus feedbacks cause a reduction of the surface warming in low latitudes. The enhancement (reduction) of local feedbacks in high (low) latitudes in response to the non-local dynamic feedback further strengthens the polar amplification of the surface warming. Both the direct response and response to water vapor feedback lead to an increase of lapse rate in both low and high latitudes. The stronger total dynamic heating in the mean state in high latitudes is responsible for a larger increase of lapse rate in high latitudes in the direct response and response to water vapor feedback. The local evaporation and surface sensible heat flux feedbacks reduce the lapse rate both in low and high latitudes through cooling the surface and warming the atmosphere. The much stronger evaporation feedback leads to a final warming in low latitudes that is stronger in the atmosphere than the surface.

  4. Effects of climate change on coastal fresh groundwater resources

    Priyantha Ranjan, So Kazama and Masaki Sawamoto.

    Global Environmental Change, Vol. 16, No. 4, Oct 2007, pp. 388-399.

    This study evaluates the impacts of climate change on fresh groundwater resources specifically salinity intrusion in water resources stressed coastal aquifers. Our assessment used the Hadley Centre climate model, HadCM3 with high and low emission scenarios (SRES A2 and B2) for years 2000-2099. In both scenarios, the annual fresh groundwater resources losses indicate an increasing long-term trend in all stressed areas, except in the northern Africa/Sahara region. We also found that precipitation and temperature individually did not show good correlations with fresh groundwater loss. However, the relationship between the aridity index and fresh groundwater loss exhibited a strong negative correlation. We also discuss the impacts of loss of fresh groundwater resources on socio-economic activities, mainly population growth and per capita fresh groundwater resources.

  5. Ensemble climate simulations using a fully coupled ocean-troposphere-stratosphere general circulation model

    H. Huebener, U. Cubasch, U. Langematz, et al.

    Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, Vol. 365, No. 1857, Aug 15 2007, pp. 2089-2101.

    Long-term transient simulations are carried out in an initial condition ensemble mode using a global coupled climate model which includes comprehensive ocean and stratosphere components. This model, which is run for the years 1860-2100, allows the investigation of the troposphere-stratosphere interactions and the importance of representing the middle atmosphere in climate-change simulations.The model simulates the present-day climate (1961-2000) realistically in the troposphere, stratosphere and ocean. The enhanced stratospheric resolution leads to the simulation of sudden stratospheric warmings; however, their frequency is underestimated by a factor of 2 with respect to observations.In projections of the future climate using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on emissions scenarios A2, an increased tropospheric wave forcing counteracts the radiative cooling in the middle atmosphere caused by the enhanced greenhouse gas concentration. This leads to a more dynamically active, warmer stratosphere compared with present-day simulations, and to the doubling of the number of stratospheric warmings. The associated changes in the mean zonal wind patterns lead to a southward displacement of the Northern Hemisphere storm track in the climate-change signal.

  6. Estimating the potential for twenty-first century sudden climate change

    Drew Shindell.

    Philosophical transactions.Series A, Mathematical, Vol. 365, No. 1860, Nov 15 2007, pp. 2675-2694.

    I investigate the potential for sudden climate change during the current century. This investigation takes into account evidence from the Earth's history, from climate models and our understanding of the physical processes governing climate shifts. Sudden alterations to climate forcing seem to be improbable, with sudden changes instead most likely to arise from climate feedbacks. Based on projections from models validated against historical events, dramatic changes in ocean circulation appear unlikely. Ecosystem-climate feedbacks clearly have the potential to induce sudden change, but are relatively poorly understood at present. More probable sudden changes are large increases in the frequency of summer heatwaves and changes resulting from feedbacks involving hydrology. These include ice sheet decay, which may be set in motion this century. The most devastating consequences are likely to occur further in the future, however. Reductions in subtropical precipitation are likely to be the most severe hydrologic effects this century, with rapid changes due to the feedbacks of relatively well-understood large-scale circulation patterns. Water stress may become particularly acute in the Southwest US and Mexico, and in the Mediterranean and Middle East, where rainfall decreases of 10-25% (regionally) and up to 40% (locally) are projected.

  7. Global water cycle agreement in the climate models assessed in the IPCC AR4

    D. Waliser, K. -W Seo, S. Schubert and E. Njoku.

    Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34, No. 16, Oct 2007.

    This study examines the fidelity of the global water cycle in the climate model simulations assessed in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. The results demonstrate good model agreement in quantities that have had a robust global observational basis and that are physically unambiguous. The worst agreement occurs for quantities that have both poor observational constraints and whose model representations can be physically ambiguous. In addition, components involving water vapor (frozen water) typically exhibit the best (worst) agreement, and fluxes typically exhibit better agreement than reservoirs. These results are discussed in relation to the importance of obtaining accurate model representation of the water cycle and its role in climate change. Recommendations are also given for facilitating the needed model improvements.

  8. Hierarchical evaluation of IPCC AR4 coupled climate models with systematic consideration of model uncertainties

    Seung-Ki Min and Andreas Hense.

    Climate Dynamics, Vol. 29, No. 7-8, Dec 2007 2007, pp. 853-868.

    The capability of reproducing observed surface air temperature (SAT) changes for the twentieth century is assessed using 22 multi-models which contribute to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. A Bayesian method is utilized for model evaluation by which model uncertainties are considered systematically. We provide a hierarchical analysis for global to sub-continental regions with two settings. First, regions of different size are evaluated separately at global, hemispheric, continental, and sub-continental scales. Second, the global SAT trend patterns are evaluated with gradual refinement of horizontal scales (higher dimensional analysis). Results show that models with natural plus anthropogenic forcing (MME_ALL) generally exhibit better skill than models with anthropogenic only forcing (MME_ANTH) at all spatial scales for different trend periods (entire twentieth century and its first and second halves). This confirms previous studies that suggest the important role of natural forcing. For the second half of the century, we found that MME_ANTH performs well compared to MME_ALL except for a few models with overestimated warming. This indicates not only major contributions of anthropogenic forcing over that period but also the applicability of both MMEs to observationally-constrained future predictions of climate changes. In addition, the skill-weighted averages with the Bayes factors [Bayesian model averaging (BMA)] show a general superiority over other error-based weighted averaging methods, suggesting a potential advantage of BMA for climate change predictions.

  9. High resolution modeling of the regional impacts of climate change on irrigation water demand

    E. Elgaali, L. A. Garcia and D. S. Ojima.

    Climatic Change, Vol. 84, No. 3-4, Oct 2007, pp. 441-461.

    In the Arkansas River Basin in southeastern Colorado, surface irrigation provides most of the water required for agriculture. Consequently, the region's future could be significantly affected if climate change impacts the amount of water available for irrigation. A methodology to model the expected impacts of climate change on irrigation water demand in the region is described. The Integrated Decision Support Consumptive Use model, which accounts for spatial and temporal variability in evapotranspiration and precipitation, is used in conjunction with two climate scenarios from the Vegetation-Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis Project. The two scenarios were extracted and scaled down from two general circulation models (GCMs), the HAD from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research and the CCC from the Canadian Climate Centre. The results show significant changes in the water demands of crops due to climate change. The HAD and CCC climate change scenarios both predict an increase in water demand. However, the projections of the two GCMs concerning the water available for irrigation differ significantly, reflecting the large degree of uncertainty concerning what the future impacts of climate change might be in the study region. As new or updated predictions become available, the methodology described here can be used to estimate the impacts of climate change.

  10. The impact of climate change on the physical characteristics of the larger lakes in the English Lake District

    G. L. E. N. GEORGE, M. A. R. G. A. R. E. T. HURLEY and D. I. A. N. E. HEWITT.

    Freshwater Biology, Vol. 52, No. 9, Sept 2007, pp. 1647-1666.

    1. The larger lakes of the English Lake District have been the subject of intensive scientific study for more than 60 years. Year-to-year variations in the weather have recently been shown to have a major effect on their physical characteristics. The area is mild but very wet and the dynamics of the lakes are strongly influenced by the movement of weather systems across the Atlantic. 2. Here, we combine the results of long-term measurements and the projections from a Regional Climate Model (RCM) to assess the potential impact of climate change on the surface temperature and residence times of the lakes. 3. The RCM outputs used were produced by the U.K. Hadley Centre and are based on the IPCC 'A2' scenario for the emission of greenhouse gases. These suggest that winters in the area will be very much milder and wetter by the 2050s and that there will be a pronounced reduction in the summer rainfall. 4. An analysis of the meteorological data acquired between 1940 and 2000 shows that there have been progressive increases in the winter air temperature and in the rainfall which are correlated with the long-term change in the North Atlantic Oscillation. The trends reported during the summer were less pronounced and were correlated with the increased frequency of anticyclonic days and a decrease in the frequency of westerly days in the British Isles. 5. A simple model of the year-to-year variations in surface temperatures showed that the highest winter temperatures were recorded in the deeper lakes and the highest summer temperatures in the lakes with the shallowest thermoclines. When this model was used to predict the surface temperatures of the lakes in the 2050s, the greatest winter increase (+1.08 °C) was observed in the shallowest lake and the greatest summer increase (+2.18 °C) in the lake with the shallowest thermocline. 6. The model used to estimate the seasonal variation in the residence time of the lakes showed that the most pronounced variations were recorded in lakes with a short residence time. Average winter residence times ranged from a minimum of 10 days to a maximum of 436 days and average summer values from a minimum of 23 days to a maximum of 215 days. When this model was used to predict the residence time of the lakes in the 2050s, the greatest winter decrease (-20%) was observed in the smallest lake and the greatest summer increase (+92%) in the lake with the shortest residence time. 7. The results are discussed in relation to trends reported elsewhere in Europe and the impact of changes in the atmospheric circulation on the dynamics of the lakes. The most serious limnological effects were those projected for the summer and included a general increase in the stability of the lakes and a decrease in the flushing rate of the lakes with short residence times.

  11. The impact of climate change on the risk of forest and grassland fires in Australia

    A. J. Pitman, G. T. Narisma and J. McAneney.

    Climatic Change, Vol. 84, No. 3-4, Oct 2007, pp. 383-401.

    We explore the impact of future climate change on the risk of forest and grassland fires over Australia in January using a high resolution regional climate model, driven at the boundaries by data from a transitory coupled climate model. Two future emission scenarios (relatively high and relatively low) are used for 2050 and 2100 and four realizations for each time period and each emission scenario are run. Results show a consistent increase in regional-scale fire risk over Australia driven principally by warming and reductions in relative humidity in all simulations, under all emission scenarios and at all time periods. We calculate the probability density function for the fire risk for a single point in New South Wales and show that the probability of extreme fire risk increases by around 25% compared to the present day in 2050 under both relatively low and relatively high emissions, and that this increases by a further 20% under the relatively low emission scenario by 2100. The increase in the probability of extreme fire risk increases dramatically under the high emission scenario by 2100. Our results are broadly in-line with earlier analyses despite our use of a significantly different methodology and we therefore conclude that the likelihood of a significant increase in fire risk over Australia resulting from climate change is very high. While there is already substantial investment in fire-related management in Australia, our results indicate that this investment is likely to have to increase to maintain the present fire-related losses in Australia.

  12. Impact of the lateral boundary conditions resolution on dynamical downscaling of precipitation in mediterranean spain

    A. Amengual, R. Romero, V. Homar, C. Ramis and S. Alonso.

    Climate Dynamics, Vol. 29, No. 5, Oct 2007, pp. 487-499.

    Conclusions on the General Circulation Models (GCMs) horizontal and temporal optimum resolution for dynamical downscaling of rainfall in Mediterranean Spain are derived based on the statistical analysis of mesoscale simulations of past events. These events correspond to the 165 heavy rainfall days during 1984-1993, which are simulated with the HIRLAM mesoscale model. The model is nested within the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts atmospheric grid analyses. We represent the spectrum of GCMs resolutions currently applied in climate change research by using varying horizontal and temporal resolutions of these analyses. Three sets of simulations are designed using input data with 1 degree , 2 degree and 3 degree horizontal resolutions (available at 6 h intervals), and three additional sets are designed using 1 degree horizontal resolution with less frequent boundary conditions updated every 12, 24 and 48 h. The quality of the daily rainfall forecasts is verified against rain-gauge observations using correlation and root mean square error analysis as well as Relative Operating Characteristic curves. Spatial distribution of average precipitation fields are also computed and verified against observations. For the whole Mediterranean Spain, model skill is not appreciably improved when using enhanced spatial input data, suggesting that there is no clear benefit in using high resolution data from General Circulation Model for the regional downscaling of precipitation under the conditions tested. However, significant differences are found in verification scores when boundary conditions are interpolated less frequently than 12 h apart. The analysis is particularized for six major rain bearing flow regimes that affect the region, and differences in model performance are found among the flow types, with slightly better forecasts for Atlantic and cold front passage flows. A remarkable spatial variability in forecast quality is found in the domain, with an overall tendency for higher Relative Operating Characteristic scores in the west and north of the region and over highlands, where the two previous flow regimes are quite influential. The findings of this study could be of help for dynamical downscaling design applied to future precipitation scenarios in the region, as well as to better establish confidence intervals on its results.

  13. Improved surface temperature prediction for the coming decade from a global climate model

    Doug M. Smith, Stephen Cusack, Andrew W. Colman, Chris K. Folland, Glen R. Harris and James M. Murphy.

    Science, Vol. 317, No. 5839, Aug 10 2007, pp. 796-799.

    Previous climate model projections of climate change accounted for external forcing from natural and anthropogenic sources but did not attempt to predict internally generated natural variability. We present a new modeling system that predicts both internal variability and externally forced changes and hence forecasts surface temperature with substantially improved skill throughout a decade, both globally and in many regions. Our system predicts that internal variability will partially offset the anthropogenic global warming signal for the next few years. However, climate will continue to warm, with at least half of the years after 2009 predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record.

  14. Issues in the interpretation of climate model ensembles to inform decisions

    David A. Stainforth, Thomas E. Downing, Richard Washington, Ana Lopez and Mark New.

    Philosophical transactions.Series A, Mathematical, Vol. 365, No. 1857, Aug 15 2007, pp. 2163-2177.

    There is a scientific consensus regarding the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This has led to substantial efforts to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions and thereby mitigate the impacts of climate change on a global scale. Despite these efforts, we are committed to substantial further changes over at least the next few decades. Societies will therefore have to adapt to changes in climate. Both adaptation and mitigation require action on scales ranging from local to global, but adaptation could directly benefit from climate predictions on regional scales while mitigation could be driven solely by awareness of the global problem; regional projections being principally of motivational value. We discuss how recent developments of large ensembles of climate model simulations can be interpreted to provide information on these scales and to inform societal decisions. Adaptation is most relevant as an influence on decisions which exist irrespective of climate change, but which have consequences on decadal time-scales. Even in such situations, climate change is often only a minor influence; perhaps helping to restrict the choice of 'no regrets' strategies. Nevertheless, if climate models are to provide inputs to societal decisions, it is important to interpret them appropriately. We take climate ensembles exploring model uncertainty as potentially providing a lower bound on the maximum range of uncertainty and thus a non-discountable climate change envelope. An analysis pathway is presented, describing how this information may provide an input to decisions, sometimes via a number of other analysis procedures and thus a cascade of uncertainty. An initial screening is seen as a valuable component of this process, potentially avoiding unnecessary effort while guiding decision makers through issues of confidence and robustness in climate modelling information. Our focus is the usage of decadal to centennial time-scale climate change simulations as inputs to decision making, but we acknowledge that robust adaptation to the variability of present day climate encourages the development of less vulnerable systems as well as building critical experience in how to respond to climatic uncertainty.

  15. Long-term sea-level projections with two versions of a global climate model of intermediate complexity and the corresponding changes in the Earth's gravity field

    O. Makarynskyy, M. Kuhn and W. E. Featherstone.

    Computers & Geosciences, Vol. 33, No. 8, Aug 2007, pp. 1036-1051.

    Approximate estimations of future climate change can be produced by implementing numerical global climate models. In this study, versions 2.6 and 2.7 of the University of Victoria Earth System Climate Model (ESCM) were employed. Compared to other climatic projections, the novelty of this study consists in a significant extension of the projection period to the time-scale of 4200 years, and in comparisons of the results obtained with two sequential versions 2.6 and 2.7 of ESCM. Version 2.6 of ESCM couples the atmospheric, oceanic and ice processes. Version 2.7 of ESCM accounts for solar and ice-sheet forcing, as well as coupling land-vegetation-atmosphere-ocean carbon, and allows inclusion of ocean biology and dynamic vegetation modules. Our comparison exhibits essential quantitative and, moreover, qualitative differences in the parameters under consideration, which are surface air temperature, sea-ice and snow volumes, and surface pressure in a column of water averaged globally. The observed differences are attributed to the biological blocks added to ESCM version 2.7, changed numerics and explicit ice-sheet forcing. Furthermore, the non-steric sea-level change has been used to model corresponding gravity field changes (here in terms of geoid height) by evaluating Newton's volume integral and study the differences between the two software versions under consideration. In line with the model results, the estimated geoid height changes also exhibit a significant difference between the experiments' outcomes.

  16. A methodology for probabilistic predictions of regional climate change from perturbed physics ensembles

    J. M. Murphy, B. B. B. Booth, M. Collins, G. R. Harris, D. M. H. Sexton and M. J. Webb.

    Philosophical transactions.Series A, Mathematical, Vol. 365, No. 1857, Aug 15 2007, pp. 1993-2028.

    A methodology is described for probabilistic predictions of future climate. This is based on a set of ensemble simulations of equilibrium and time-dependent changes, carried out by perturbing poorly constrained parameters controlling key physical and biogeochemical processes in the HadCM3 coupled ocean-atmosphere global climate model. These (ongoing) experiments allow quantification of the effects of earth system modelling uncertainties and internal climate variability on feedbacks likely to exert a significant influence on twenty-first century climate at large regional scales. A further ensemble of regional climate simulations at 25km resolution is being produced for Europe, allowing the specification of probabilistic predictions at spatial scales required for studies of climate impacts. The ensemble simulations are processed using a set of statistical procedures, the centrepiece of which is a Bayesian statistical framework designed for use with complex but imperfect models. This supports the generation of probabilities constrained by a wide range of observational metrics, and also by expert-specified prior distributions defining the model parameter space. The Bayesian framework also accounts for additional uncertainty introduced by structural modelling errors, which are estimated using our ensembles to predict the results of alternative climate models containing different structural assumptions. This facilitates the generation of probabilistic predictions combining information from perturbed physics and multi-model ensemble simulations. The methodology makes extensive use of emulation and scaling techniques trained on climate model results. These are used to sample the equilibrium response to doubled carbon dioxide at any required point in the parameter space of surface and atmospheric processes, to sample time-dependent changes by combining this information with ensembles sampling uncertainties in the transient response of a wider set of earth system processes, and to sample changes at local scales.The methodology is necessarily dependent on a number of expert choices, which are highlighted throughout the paper.

  17. Modeling changes in summer temperature of the Fraser River during the next century

    M. R. Ferrari, J. R. Miller and G. L. Russell.

    Journal of Hydrology (Amsterdam), Vol. 342, No. 3-4, 1 Sep 2007, pp. 336-346.

    The Fraser River basin in British Columbia has significant environmental, economic and cultural importance. Healthy river conditions through sufficient flows and optimal temperatures are of paramount importance for the survival of Pacific salmon, which migrate upriver toward the headwaters to spawn near the end of their lives. Trends have been detected which indicate that the annual flow and summer temperature have been increasing since the middle of the last century. In this study we examine the observed trend in summer temperature of the Fraser River and compare it with temperatures calculated as part of a global climate model (GCM) simulation in which atmospheric greenhouse gases are increasing. We then use the GCM to consider how these trends might continue through the present century. Both the observations and model indicate that during the last half of the 20th century, the summer temperature near the river mouth has been increasing at a rate of approximately 0.12 super(o)C per decade in August. In this study we use an online method in which river temperatures are calculated directly as part of a GCM simulation and project how summer temperature near the mouth of the Fraser River might change by the end of the present century. The results indicate that between 2000 and 2100 river temperatures will increase in all summer months with a maximum increase of 0.14 super(o)C per decade in August. This result is consistent with an offline modeling study by [Morrison, J., Quick, M.C., Goreman, M.G.G. 2002. Climate change in the Fraser River watershed: flow and temperature projections. Journal of Hydrology, 263, 230-244] in which they used output from two GCMS to drive a hydrologic model and predict future changes in river temperature and supports their contention that the timing and magnitude of the increase could be crucial for salmon migration. Future work can extend this analysis to other river systems in an effort to project the potential effects of climate change on the behavior of the world's large river basins, as well as identify the potential biological effects that may accompany these changes.

  18. Multimodel projections of stratospheric ozone in the 21st century

    V. Eyring, D. W. Waugh, G. E. Bodeker, et al.

    Journal of Geophysical Research.D.Atmospheres, Vol. 112, No. D23, Oct 2007.

    Simulations from eleven coupled chemistry-climate models (CCMs) employing nearly identical forcings have been used to project the evolution of stratospheric ozone throughout the 21st century. The model-to-model agreement in projected temperature trends is good, and all CCMs predict continued, global mean cooling of the stratosphere over the next 5 decades, increasing from around 0.25 K/decade at 50 hPa to around 1 K/decade at 1 hPa under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario. In general, the simulated ozone evolution is mainly determined by decreases in halogen concentrations and continued cooling of the global stratosphere due to increases in greenhouse gases (GHGs). Column ozone is projected to increase as stratospheric halogen concentrations return to 1980s levels. Because of ozone increases in the middle and upper stratosphere due to GHG- induced cooling, total ozone averaged over midlatitudes, outside the polar regions, and globally, is projected to increase to 1980 values between 2035 and 2050 and before lower-stratospheric halogen amounts decrease to 1980 values. In the polar regions the CCMs simulate small temperature trends in the first and second half of the 21st century in midwinter. Differences in stratospheric inorganic chlorine (Cl sub(y)) among the CCMs are key to diagnosing the intermodel differences in simulated ozone recovery, in particular in the Antarctic. It is found that there are substantial quantitative differences in the simulated Cl sub(y), with the October mean Antarctic Cl sub(y) peak value varying from less than 2 ppb to over 3.5 ppb in the CCMs, and the date at which the Cl sub(y) returns to 1980 values varying from before 2030 to after 2050. There is a similar variation in the timing of recovery of Antarctic springtime column ozone back to 1980 values. As most models underestimate peak Cl sub(y) near 2000, ozone recovery in the Antarctic could occur even later, between 2060 and 2070. In the Arctic the column ozone increase in spring does not follow halogen decreases as closely as in the Antarctic, reaching 1980 values before Arctic halogen amounts decrease to 1980 values and before the Antarctic. None of the CCMs predict future large decreases in the Arctic column ozone. By 2100, total column ozone is projected to be substantially above 1980 values in all regions except in the tropics.

  19. Projected increase in continental runoff due to plant responses to increasing carbon dioxide

    Richard A. Betts, Olivier Boucher, Matthew Collins, et al.

    Nature, Vol. 448, No. 7157, Aug 30 2007, pp. 1037-1041.

    In addition to influencing climatic conditions directly through radiative forcing, increasing carbon dioxide concentration influences the climate system through its effects on plant physiology. Plant stomata generally open less widely under increased carbon dioxide concentration, which reduces transpiration and thus leaves more water at the land surface. This driver of change in the climate system, which we term 'physiological forcing', has been detected in observational records of increasing average continental runoff over the twentieth century. Here we use an ensemble of experiments with a global climate model that includes a vegetation component to assess the contribution of physiological forcing to future changes in continental runoff, in the context of uncertainties in future precipitation. We find that the physiological effect of doubled carbon dioxide concentrations on plant transpiration increases simulated global mean runoff by 6 per cent relative to pre-industrial levels; an increase that is comparable to that simulated in response to radiatively forced climate change (11 +/- 6 per cent). Assessments of the effect of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations on the hydrological cycle that only consider radiative forcing will therefore tend to underestimate future increases in runoff and overestimate decreases. This suggests that freshwater resources may be less limited than previously assumed under scenarios of future global warming, although there is still an increased risk of drought. Moreover, our results highlight that the practice of assessing the climate-forcing potential of all greenhouse gases in terms of their radiative forcing potential relative to carbon dioxide does not accurately reflect the relative effects of different greenhouse gases on freshwater resources.

  20. Projecting Climate Change Impacts on Mountain Snow Cover in Central Scotland from Historical Patterns

    Mandar R. Trivedi, Mervyn K. Browne, Pamela M. Berry, Terence P. Dawson and Michael D. Morecroft.

    Arctic, Vol. 39, No. 3, Aug 2007, pp. 488-499.

    Cumulative days of seasonal snow cover at Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve, a mountain site in Scotland, are related to altitude, temperature, and precipitation using a 45-year record from a nearby climate station. Multiple linear regression is used to model interannual variation in snow cover duration as a function of winter mean daily temperature and monthly precipitation. Snow cover duration is closely linked to temperature, while precipitation contributes a positive effect among winters of similar temperature mode. Snow cover duration at mid to upper altitudes (600–900 m) responds most strongly to variation in mean daily temperature. A 1 °C rise in temperature at the station corresponds to a 15-day reduction in snow cover at 130 m and a 33-day reduction at 750 m. The empirical relationship is applied to climate change scenarios from the HadRM3 regional climate model. Under a ‘low’ greenhouse gas emissions scenario, snow cover in the 2050s is projected to be reduced by 93% at 130 m, 43% at 600 m and 21% at 1060 m, while under a ‘high’ emissions scenario these reductions are projected to be 100%, 68%, and 32%, respectively. The potential impact of snow cover reduction on snow-dependent vegetation is modeled. The results suggest a future decline in climax vegetation of international conservation importance.

  21. Refinement of dynamically downscaled precipitation and temperature scenarios

    Torill Engen-Skaugen.

    Climatic Change, Vol. 84, No. 3-4, Oct 2007, pp. 365-382.

    A method for adjusting dynamically downscaled precipitation and temperature scenarios representing specific sites is presented. The method reproduces mean monthly values and standard deviations based on daily observations. The trend obtained in the regional climate model both for temperature and precipitation is maintained, and the frequency of modelled and observed rainy days shows better agreement. Thus, the method is appropriate for tailoring dynamically downscaled temperature and precipitation values for climate change impact studies. One precipitation and temperature scenario dynamically downscaled with HIRHAM from the Atmospheric-Ocean General Circulation Model at the Max-Planck Institute in Hamburg, ECHAM4/OPYC4 GSDIO with emission scenario IS92a, is chosen to illustrate the adjustment method.

  22. Relative impacts of vegetation coverage and leaf area index on climate change in a greener north

    Jing Zhang and John E. Walsh.

    Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34, No. 15, Oct 2007.

    To identify relative impacts of vegetation coverage and leaf area index (LAI) on climate in a greener north, a set of climate model sensitivity experiments was conducted in which vegetation coverage and/or LAI were increased over the land poleward of 60 perpendicular . The simulation results indicate that an increase in vegetation coverage makes a significant contribution to surface warming, while increasing LAI does not. The increased vegetation coverage reduces both background (snow-free) and snow-covered surface albedos and results in a maximum surface warming (>2 not equal to ) during spring and early summer. The increase in vegetation coverage also alters the partitioning between soil evaporation and vegetation evapotranspiration, and consequently reduces soil moisture loss from surface soil. Increased LAI leads to an enhancement of both convective and large scale components of precipitation, while the increase in vegetation coverage primarily increases the ratio of convective to large-scale precipitation.

  23. Simulating long-term Caspian Sea level changes: The impact of Holocene and future climate conditions

    H. Renssen, B. C. Lougheed, J. C. J. H. Aerts, H. de Moel, P. J. Ward and J. C. J. Kwadijk.

    Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 261, No. 3-4, 30 Sep 2007, pp. 685-693.

    To improve our understanding of the relationship between climate change and variations in Caspian Sea level (CSL), we performed simulations of annual CSL for the period 8 ka to 2100 CE using a coupled model setup representing climate, hydrology and sea level. We forced our climate model with long-term changes in orbital parameters and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, using the IPCC A1b scenario for the 21st Century. Our simulations produce an orbitally forced, long-term decline in CSL of 5 m from 5.5 to 0 ka, caused by a decrease in river runoff and over-sea precipitation that is not fully compensated by a decrease in over-sea evaporation. Superimposed on this long-term downward CSL trend we simulated centennial-scale fluctuations of up to 4 m and decadal-scale variations of up to 2 m, caused by the internal variations of our modeled climate system, amplified by the sensitivity of CSL to small changes in river runoff and in the over-sea P-E budget. The A1b anthropogenic emission scenario causes a 4.5 m fall in CSL in the 21st Century, due to a pronounced increase in over-sea evaporation that is stronger than the enhanced river discharge. This decline in CSL is of the same order of magnitude as the orbitally-forced millennial-scale downward CSL trend simulated for the last 8000 years. Our results are generally consistent with CSL estimates based on geological, historical and measured data, as well as with most other model studies.

  24. Temperature scenarios for Norway: from regional to local scale

    Torill Engen-Skaugen, Jan Erik Haugen and Ole Einar Tveito.

    Climate Dynamics, Vol. 29, No. 5, Oct 2007, pp. 441-453.

    Scenarios with daily time resolution are frequently used in research on the impacts of climate change. These are traditionally developed by regional climate models (RCMs). The spatial resolution, however, is usually too coarse for local climate change analysis, especially in regions with complex topography, such as Norway. The RCM used, HIRHAM, is run with lateral boundary forcing provided from two global medium resolution models; the ECHAM4/OPYC3 from MPI and the HadAM3H from the Hadley centre. The first is run with IPCC SRES emission scenario B2, the latter is run with IPCC SRES emission scenarios A2 and B2. All three scenarios represent the future time period 2071-2100. Both models have a control run, representing the present climate (1961-1990). Daily temperature scenarios are interpolated from HIRHAM to Norwegian temperature stations. The at-site HIRHAM-temperatures, both for the control and scenario runs, are adjusted to be locally representative. Mean monthly values and standard deviations based on daily values of the adjusted HIRHAM-temperatures, as well as the cumulative distribution curve of daily seasonal temperatures, are conclusive with observations for the control period. Residual kriging are used on the adjusted daily HIRHAM-temperatures to obtain high spatial temperature scenarios. Mean seasonal temperature grids are obtained. By adjusting the control runs and scenarios and improving the spatial resolution of the scenarios, the absolute temperature values are representative at a local scale. The scenarios indicate larger warming in winter than in summer in the Scandinavian regions. A marked west-east and south-north gradient is projected for Norway, where the largest increase is in eastern and northern regions. The temperature of the coldest winter days is projected to increase more than the warmer temperatures.

  25. Will moist convection be stronger in a warmer climate?

    Anthony D. Del Genio, Mao-Sung Yao and Jeffrey Jonas.

    Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34, No. 16, Oct 2007.

    The intensity of moist convection is an important diagnostic of climate change not currently predicted by most climate models. We show that a simple estimate of the vertical velocity of convective updrafts in a global climate model reproduces observed land-ocean differences in convective intensity. Changes in convective intensity in a doubled CO sub(2) simulation are small because the tropical lapse rate tends to follow a moist adiabatic profile. However, updrafts strengthen by similar to 1 m s super(-1) with warming in the lightning-producing regions of continental convective storms, primarily due to an upward shift in the freezing level. For the western United States, drying in the warmer climate reduces the frequency of lightning-producing storms that initiate forest fires, but the strongest storms occur 26% more often. For the central-eastern United States, stronger updrafts combined with weaker wind shear suggest little change in severe storm occurrence with warming, but the most severe storms occur more often.