Enhanced resolution modelling study on anthropogenic climate change: changes in extremes of the hydrological cycle

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Abstract

Changes in variability and extremes of the hydrological cycle are studied in two 30 year simulations using a general circulation model at high horizontal resolution. The simulations represent the present-day climate and a period in which the radiative forcing corresponds to a doubling of the present-day concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. In most regions and seasons the probability density function of daily precipitation experiences a stretching associated with a higher probability of heavy precipitation events in the warmer climate. Whereas extremely long wet spells show only moderate changes, the extremely long dry spells are extended at middle latitudes over most land areas. At high latitudes the changes in annual maximum river runoff are mainly controlled by changes in snow budget. Eight out of 14 selected major rivers show a statistically significant change in 10 year return values of the annual maximum discharge. In two cases a significant decrease is found and in six cases there is a significant increase. Copyright © 2002 Royal Meteorological Society

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