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Evaluation of extreme climate events using a regional climate model for China

Authors

  • Zhenming Ji,

    1. Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    3. State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Cold and Arid Regions Environment and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China
    4. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Shichang Kang

    Corresponding author
    1. Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Cold and Arid Regions Environment and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China
    • Correspondence to: S. Kang, Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100101 Beijing, China. E-mail shichang.kang@itpcas.ac.cn

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ABSTRACT

Extreme climate events over China at the end of the 21st century (2080–2099) are investigated using the regional climate model RegCM4. Model performance is validated through comparison between observations and simulations over the period 1985–2005. The results show that RegCM4 can satisfactorily reproduce the spatial distribution of extreme climate events over China. The model simulates temperature extremes more accurately than precipitation. Under the RCP8.5 (high emission) scenario, the number of frost days decreases, and both the heat wave duration index and the growing season length increase dramatically towards the end of the 21st century. Changes in extreme temperature become increasingly pronounced from South to North China, with the most significant changes occurring on the Tibetan Plateau (TP). The proportion of heavy precipitation generally increases, except on the southern TP. The number of very heavy precipitation days increases by 25–50% in Northwest and East China. In winter, the number of consecutive dry days (CDD) decreases in North China and increases in South China. The greatest increases in CDD are found in June, July and August (JJA) in Southwest China. In a future that follows this scenario, drought events may be aggravated in Southwest China, and decrease in North China. In contrast, when repeating these projections under the assumption of the RCP4.5 scenario for emissions, the frequency of extreme climate events is reduced. These results suggest that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions may mitigate the effects of climate change over the coming decades.

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