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Publication Date
29 August 2021

Projected Changes to Hydroclimate Seasonality in the Continental United States



Future changes to the hydrological cycle are projected in a warming world, and any shifts in drought risk may prove extremely consequential for natural and human systems. In addition to long-term moistening, drying, or warming trends, perturbations to the annual cycle of regional hydroclimate variables may also have substantial impacts. We analyze projected changes in several hydroclimate variables across the continental United States, along with shifts in the amplitude and phase of their annual cycles. We find that even in regions where no robust change in the annual mean is expected, coherent changes to the annual cycle are projected. In particular, we identify robust regional phase shifts toward earlier arrival of peak evaporation in the northern regions, and peak runoff and total soil moisture in the western regions. Changes in the amplitude of the annual cycle of total and surface soil moisture are also projected, and reflect changes to the annual cycle in surface water supply and demand. Whether changes become detectable above the background noise of internal variability depends strongly on the future scenario considered, and significant changes to the annual cycle are largely avoided in the lowest-forcing scenario.

“Projected Changes To Hydroclimate Seasonality In The Continental United States”. 2021. Earth's Future 9. doi:10.1029/2021ef002019.
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