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Publication Date
15 July 2023

Impact of Global Warming on U.S. Summertime Mesoscale Convective Systems: A Simple Lagrangian Parcel Model Perspective



Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) are the dominant rainfall producer over the United States during the warm season, causing natural disasters and severe weather every year. Global climate models have large uncertainty in projecting precipitation changes in the future climate. Here, a simple Lagrangian parcel model is used to investigate the impact of global warming on MCS initiation and growth. The single-column parcel model projects a mean precipitation decrease over the central United States and an increase to its east, in agreement with the CMIP5 model projection. It also highlights the crucial role of current climate mean-state model bias in exaggerating the change in future mean precipitation projection by 25%. As for convective population, the model captures the decreased occurrence frequency of weak to moderate convection and increased frequency of strong convection due to the increased CAPE and CIN, in agreement with convection-permitting regional simulations. Novel parameterizations of gust-front propagation speed and subsidence strength are developed as guided by cloud-resolving simulations. The multicolumn parcel model employing those parameterizations captures readily the cold pool–induced upscale growth feature. It simulates smaller mesoscale clusters over the central United States under global warming due to gust-front slowdown and subsidence strength enhancement, which are further attributed to land aridity–induced weakening of initial accumulated precipitation and strengthening of updraft speed, respectively. That said, mesoscale clusters could become bigger under more favorable conditions in future climate, including boundary layer moistening, convection lifetime lengthening, and cold pool mechanical-lifting enhancement, which require further investigations to improve mechanistic understanding of future MCS changes.

Yang, Qiu, L. Ruby Leung, Zhe Feng, and Xingchao Chen. 2023. “Impact Of Global Warming On U.s. Summertime Mesoscale Convective Systems: A Simple Lagrangian Parcel Model Perspective”. Journal Of Climate 36 (14). American Meteorological Society: 4597-4618. doi:10.1175/jcli-d-22-0291.1.
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