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Publication Date
1 April 2022

Wetter California Projected by CMIP6 Models With Observational Constraints Under a High GHG Emission Scenario



As the world's fifth-largest economy entity, California (CA) is vulnerable to climate changes especially the magnitude of winter (wet season) precipitation that is closely linked to regional drought severity, vegetation growth, and wildfire activities. However, the fate of CA precipitation in the future remains highly uncertain, for example, the state-of-the-art Earth system models (ESMs) from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) projected −3% to +42% and −27% to +63% precipitation changes in northern and central-southern CA, respectively, under the high greenhouse gas (GHG) emission scenario (SSP585). In this work, we applied the Pareto optimality concept and used observed teleconnection patterns (causal relationships between ocean regions and CA precipitation) to mechanistically constrain CMIP6 projected CA precipitations. We estimated that precipitation will robustly increase by 0.4–1.3 mm d−1 (10–34%) over northern CA and increase by 0.1–0.5 mm d−1 (7–32%) over central-southern CA by the end of the 21st century compared with present-day. Up to 71% of ESM projection uncertainties were reduced mainly due to the strong and consistent causal relationship between North American west coast sea level pressure and CA precipitation in both observations and CMIP6 models. Our results suggest that teleconnection patterns are powerful mechanistic constraints that can help explain and reduce uncertainties in ESM projections. 

Li, Fa, Qing Zhu, William J. Riley, Kunxiaojia Yuan, Huayi Wu, and Zhipeng Gui. 2022. “Wetter California Projected By Cmip6 Models With Observational Constraints Under A High Ghg Emission Scenario”. Earth's Future 10 (4). American Geophysical Union (AGU). doi:10.1029/2022ef002694.
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