Publication Abstracts

Back et al. 2013

Back, L., K. Russ, Z. Liu, K. Inoue, J. Zhang, and B. Otto-Bliesner, 2013: Global hydrological cycle response to rapid and slow global warming. J. Climate, 26, no. 22, 8781-8786, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00118.1.

This study analyzes the response of global water vapor to global warming in a series of fully coupled climate model simulations. The authors find that a roughly 7% K-1 rate of increase of water vapor with global surface temperature is robust only for rapid anthropogenic-like climate change. For slower warming that occurred naturally in the past, the Southern Ocean has time to equilibrate, producing a different pattern of surface warming, so that water vapor increases at only 4.2% K-1. This lower rate of increase of water vapor with warming is not due to relative humidity changes or differences in mean lower-tropospheric temperature. A temperature of over 80°C would be required in the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship to match the 4.2% K-1 rate of increase. Instead, the low rate of increase is due to spatially heterogeneous warming. During slower global warming, there is enhanced warming at southern high latitudes, and hence less warming in the tropics per kelvin of global surface temperature increase. This leads to a smaller global water vapor increase, because most of the atmospheric water vapor is in the tropics. A formula is proposed that applies to general warming scenarios. This study also examines the response of global-mean precipitation and the meridional profile of precipitation minus evaporation and compares the latter to thermodynamic scalings. It is found that global-mean precipitation changes are remarkably robust between rapid and slow warming. Thermodynamic scalings for the rapid- and slow-warming zonal-mean precipitation are similar, but the precipitation changes are significantly different, suggesting that circulation changes are important in driving these differences.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Back, L. and Russ, K. and Liu, Z. and Inoue, K. and Zhang, J. and Otto-Bliesner, B.},
  title={Global hydrological cycle response to rapid and slow global warming},
  journal={J. Climate},

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RIS Citation

ID  - ba09500h
AU  - Back, L.
AU  - Russ, K.
AU  - Liu, Z.
AU  - Inoue, K.
AU  - Zhang, J.
AU  - Otto-Bliesner, B.
PY  - 2013
TI  - Global hydrological cycle response to rapid and slow global warming
JA  - J. Climate
VL  - 26
IS  - 22
SP  - 8781
EP  - 8786
DO  - 10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00118.1
ER  -

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