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Examining Regional Climate Change Patterns

Posted on | March 12, 2010 | Comments Off

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Global warming pattern formation: Sea surface temperature and rainfall. J. Climate, 23, 966–986.

Analyzing global model warming projections in models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a team of scientists headed by Mānoa Professor Shang-Ping Xie of the International Pacific Research Center, finds that ocean temperature patterns in the tropics and subtropics will change in ways that will lead to significant changes in rainfall patterns. The study will be published in the Journal of Climate, breaking ground on such regional climate forecasts.

Scientists have mostly assumed that the surfaces of Earth’s oceans will warm rather evenly in the tropics. This assumption has led to “wetter-gets-wetter” and “drier-gets-drier” regional rainfall projections. Xie’s team has gathered evidence that, although ocean surface temperatures can be expected to increase mostly everywhere by the middle of the century, the increase may differ by up to 1.5 degrees C depending upon the region.

“Compared to the mean projected rise of 1 degree C, such differences are fairly large and can have a pronounced impact on tropical and subtropical climate by altering atmospheric heating patterns and therefore rainfall,” says Xie. “Our results broadly indicate that regions of peak sea surface temperature will get wetter, and those relatively cool will get drier.”

Read the news release.

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