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Seminar - Angeline Pendergrass

05/20/2019 - 1:00pm
Eckart 227
Event Description: 


DATE:          May 20th, Monday, 1 p.m.  

LOCATION:     Eckart 227
SPEAKER:      Angeline Pendergrass
            National Center for Atmospheric Research
TITLE:          Precipitation in a changing climate 
The hydrologic cycle plays an important role supporting the diverse web of life on Earth, and both influences and responds to circulation in the atmosphere and ocean. The distribution of precipitation in time, space, and intensity is anticipated to, and in some ways is already, changing in response to warming. My work focuses on the distribution of precipitation and its interactions throughout the climate system.


Extensive literature has worked to quantify how precipitation changes in response to global warming; separate narratives have formed to describe the behavior of mean precipitation and extreme precipitation. I will share recent work quantifying the unevenness of precipitation – how sporadic it is in time – in observations and climate model simulations. Results indicate that a substantial portion of total precipitation falls in events that are often considered extreme, which has implications for both how we understand total precipitation and also extreme events. Furthermore, the unevenness of precipitation is projected to increase in response to warming, so that an even larger fraction of precipitation falls in extreme events. 


As climate changes, so does the risk of disruption of the hydrologic cycle we are adapted to. But quantifying the many aspects of this risk and its uncertainty is a challenge because of the diverse sources of uncertainty – from natural variability, structural differences among climate models, and the range of trajectories society might choose. I will share some ongoing work highlighting a peculiar response of tropical extreme precipitation to warming in the CESM1 climate model. Finally, I will discuss future directions for quantifying and understanding precipitation, atmospheric circulation, interactions with the land and ocean surface, and how these can vary and change. 
Faculty Host:  Amato Evan (
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