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Climate change intensification of horizontal water vapor transport in CMIP5

TitleClimate change intensification of horizontal water vapor transport in CMIP5
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsLavers D.A, Ralph FM, Waliser D.E, Gershunov A, Dettinger MD
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Date Published2015/07
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0094-8276
Accession NumberWOS:000358691300067
Keywordsatmospheric rivers; california; climate change; CMIP5; ensemble; impacts; models; multimodel assessment; pacific-ocean; precipitation extremes; projections; water vapor transport; west-coast

Global warming of the Earth's atmosphere is hypothesized to lead to an intensification of the global water cycle. To determine associated hydrological changes, most previous research has used precipitation. This study, however, investigates projected changes to global atmospheric water vapor transport (integrated vapor transport (IVT)), the key link between water source and sink regions. Using 22 global circulation models from the Climate Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5, we evaluate, globally, the mean, standard deviation, and the 95th percentiles of IVT from the historical simulations (1979-2005) and two emissions scenarios (2073-2099). Considering the more extreme emissions, multimodel mean IVT increases by 30-40% in the North Pacific and North Atlantic storm tracks and in the equatorial Pacific Ocean trade winds. An acceleration of the high-latitude IVT is also shown. Analysis of low-altitude moisture and winds suggests that these changes are mainly due to higher atmospheric water vapor content.

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