Precipitation Extremes and Water Vapor: Relationships in Current Climate and Implications for Climate Change

J. David Neelin, Cristian Martinez-Villalobos, Samuel N. Stechmann, Fiaz Ahmed, Gang Chen, Jesse M. Norris, Yi Hung Kuo, Geert Lenderink

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose of Review:: Review our current understanding of how precipitation is related to its thermodynamic environment, i.e., the water vapor and temperature in the surroundings, and implications for changes in extremes in a warmer climate. Recent Findings:: Multiple research threads have i) sought empirical relationships that govern onset of strong convective precipitation, or that might identify how precipitation extremes scale with changes in temperature; ii) examined how such extremes change with water vapor in global and regional climate models under warming scenarios; iii) identified fundamental processes that set the characteristic shapes of precipitation distributions. Summary:: While water vapor increases tend to be governed by the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship to temperature, precipitation extreme changes are more complex and can increase more rapidly, particularly in the tropics. Progress may be aided by bringing separate research threads together and by casting theory in terms of a full explanation of the precipitation probability distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-33
Number of pages17
JournalCurrent Climate Change Reports
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Deep convection
  • Extreme events
  • Precipitation probability
  • Rainfall
  • Stochastic model

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