Dependency of global mean precipitation on surface temperature
Lambert, F. Hugo
Webb, Mark J.
Geophysical Research Letters
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
We investigate the causes of temperature dependent changes in global precipitation in contemporary General Circulation Models (GCMs) subjected to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. By analyzing the energy budget of the troposphere, we find that changes are dominated by processes robustly simulated by GCMs. Importantly, shortwave cloud feedbacks, whose uncertainty is largely responsible for the wide range of GCM temperature climate sensitivities, are shown to have little effect. This is because these mainly arise from the scattering of shortwave radiation that has little impact on the tropospheric heating that controls precipitation. Hence, we expect that the range of simulated precipitation sensitivities to temperature will not change greatly in future GCMs, despite the recent suggestion that satellite observations indicate that GCM precipitation changes are significantly in error.
Copyright © 2008 American Geophysical Union
Vol. 35 (16), article L16706