Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Observed changes in dry-season water availability attributed to human-induced climate change

TitleObserved changes in dry-season water availability attributed to human-induced climate change
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsPadrón, Ryan S., Gudmundsson Lukas, Decharme Bertrand, Ducharne Agnes, Lawrence David M., Mao Jiafu, Peano Daniele, Krinner Gerhard, Kim Hyungjun, and Seneviratne Sonia I.
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume13
Pages477-481
Abstract / Summary

Human-induced climate change impacts the hydrological cycle and thus the availability of water resources. However, previous assessments of observed warming-induced changes in dryness have not excluded natural climate variability and show conflicting results due to uncertainties in our understanding of the response of evapotranspiration. Here we employ data-driven and land-surface models to produce observation-based global reconstructions of water availability from 1902 to 2014, a period during which our planet experienced a global warming of approximately 1 °C. Our analysis reveals a spatial pattern of changes in average water availability during the driest month of the year over the past three decades compared with the first half of the twentieth century, with some regions experiencing increased and some decreased water availability. The global pattern is consistent with climate model estimates that account for anthropogenic effects, and it is not expected from natural climate variability, supporting human-induced climate change as the cause. There is regional evidence of drier dry seasons predominantly in extratropical latitudes and including Europe, western North America, northern Asia, southern South America, Australia and eastern Africa. We also find that the intensification of the dry season is generally a consequence of increasing evapotranspiration rather than decreasing precipitation.

URLhttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-020-0594-1
DOI10.1038/s41561-020-0594-1
Journal: Nature Geoscience
Year of Publication: 2020
Volume: 13
Pages: 477-481
Publication Date: 06/2020

Human-induced climate change impacts the hydrological cycle and thus the availability of water resources. However, previous assessments of observed warming-induced changes in dryness have not excluded natural climate variability and show conflicting results due to uncertainties in our understanding of the response of evapotranspiration. Here we employ data-driven and land-surface models to produce observation-based global reconstructions of water availability from 1902 to 2014, a period during which our planet experienced a global warming of approximately 1 °C. Our analysis reveals a spatial pattern of changes in average water availability during the driest month of the year over the past three decades compared with the first half of the twentieth century, with some regions experiencing increased and some decreased water availability. The global pattern is consistent with climate model estimates that account for anthropogenic effects, and it is not expected from natural climate variability, supporting human-induced climate change as the cause. There is regional evidence of drier dry seasons predominantly in extratropical latitudes and including Europe, western North America, northern Asia, southern South America, Australia and eastern Africa. We also find that the intensification of the dry season is generally a consequence of increasing evapotranspiration rather than decreasing precipitation.

DOI: 10.1038/s41561-020-0594-1
Citation:
Padron, RS, L Gudmundsson, B Decharme, A Ducharne, DM Lawrence, J Mao, D Peano, G Krinner, H Kim, and SI Seneviratne.  2020.  "Observed changes in dry-season water availability attributed to human-induced climate change."  Nature Geoscience 13: 477-481.  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-020-0594-1.