Global hydro-climatological indicators and changes in the global hydrological cycle and rainfall patterns

Wang, Xander and Benestad, Rasmus E. and Lussana, Cristian and Lutz, Julia and Dobler, Andreas and Landgren, Oskar and Haugen, Jan Erik and Mezghani, Abdelkader and Casati, Barbara and Parding, Kajsa M. (2022) Global hydro-climatological indicators and changes in the global hydrological cycle and rainfall patterns. PLOS Climate, 1 (5). e0000029. ISSN 2767-3200

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There are few commonly used indicators that describe the state of Earth’s global hydrological cycle and here we propose three indicators to capture how an increased greenhouse effect influences the global hydrological cycle and the associated rainfall patterns. They are: i) the 24-hr global total rainfall, ii) the global surface area with daily precipitation, and iii) the global mean precipitation intensity. With a recent progress in both global satellite observations and reanalyses, we can now estimate the global rainfall surface area to provide new insights into how rainfall intensity changes over time. Based on the ERA5 reanalysis, we find that the global area of daily precipitation decreased from 43 to 41% of the global area between 1950 and 2020, whereas the total daily global rainfall increased from 1440 Gt to 1510 Gt per day. However, the estimated 24-hr global precipitation surface area varies when estimated from different reanalyses and the estimates are still uncertain. To further investigate historical variations in the precipitation surface area, we carried out a wavelet analysis of 24-hr precipitation from the ERA5 reanalysis that indicated how the rainfall patterns have changed over time. Our results suggest that individual precipitation systems over the globe have shrunk in terms of their spatial extent while becoming more intense throughout the period 1950–2020. Hence, the wavelet results are in line with an acceleration of the rate of the global hydrological cycle, combined with a diminishing global area of rainfall.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Depositing User: APLOS Library
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2022 13:13
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2022 13:13

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