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Response of precipitation extremes to idealized global warming in an aqua-planet climate model: towards a robust projection across different horizontal resolutions




Current climate models produce quite heterogeneous projections for the responses of precipitation extremes to future climate change. To help understand the range of projections from multimodel ensembles, a series of idealized ‘aquaplanet’ Atmospheric General Circulation Model (AGCM) runs have been performed with the Community Atmosphere Model CAM3. These runs have been analysed to identify the effects of horizontal resolution on precipitation extreme projections under two simple global warming scenarios. We adopt the aquaplanet framework for our simulations to remove any sensitivity to the spatial resolution of external inputs and to focus on the roles of model physics and dynamics. Results show that a uniform increase of sea surface temperature (SST) and an increase of low-to-high latitude SST gradient both lead to increase of precipitation and precipitation extremes for most latitudes. The perturbed SSTs generally have stronger impacts on precipitation extremes than on mean precipitation. Horizontal model resolution strongly affects the global warming signals in the extreme precipitation in tropical and subtropical regions but not in high latitude regions. This study illustrates that the effects of horizontal resolution have to be taken into account to develop more robust projections of precipitation extremes.