This paper discusses projections of heavy rainfall events in China during the 21st century based on daily precipitation data from the Fourth Assessment Report's (AR4) Coupled General Circulation Models (CGCM). Results show that all three experimental scenarios (scenarios A2, A1B, and B1) project consistent changes in frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall at the end of 21st century. In the regions of Northeast China and North China, there are no significant changes in frequency but there are remarkable increases in intensity of heavy rainfall, indicating that enhanced intensity is the main contributor to increased ratios of heavy rainfall to total annual precipitation in these regions. In regions of the lower reaches of Yangtze River and South China, increases in the amount of heavy rainfall are closely associated with increased frequency and increased intensity. Projected frequencies of heavy rainfall at the end of 21st century increase by 30.9 ∼ 56.6% in the Yangtze River and 35.9 ∼ 50.2% in South China compared to the period of 1980–1999, and projected intensities increase by 1.0 ∼ 5.7% and 2.8 ∼ 6.3%, respectively. Additionally, the ratios of heavy rainfall to total annual precipitation increase by 2.3 ∼ 5.4% in the Yangtze River and 1.8 ∼ 3.8% in South China. The significant increases of heavy rainfall ratios indicate that as the climate warms, heavy rainfall events are expected to increase at rates that are much faster than increases in total precipitation amounts, indicating that China will experience increased amounts of flooding. These results are substantially consistent among the three IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scenarios.
The increased probability of heavy rainfall events in China is closely connected with increased transportation of water vapour from the Arabian Sea and the South China Sea. Additionally, atmosphere stratification has become increasingly unstable, which has provided a favorable background for the initiation of heavy rainfall at the end of the 21st century. Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society