Publications by Duncan Watson-Parris

Assessing California wintertime precipitation responses to various climate drivers

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres American Geophysical Union 125 (2020) e2019JD031736

RJ Allen, J-F Lamarque, D Watson-Parris, D Olivie

Understanding how drivers of climate change affect precipitation remains an important area of research. Although several robust precipitation responses have been identified under continued increases in greenhouse gases (GHGs), considerable uncertainty remains. This is particularly the case at regional scales, including the West Coast of the United States and California. Here, we exploit idealized, single forcing simulations from the Precipitation Driver Response Model Intercomparison Project (PDRMIP) to address how climate drivers impact California wintertime precipitation. Consistent with recent work, GHGs including carbon dioxide and methane, as well as solar forcing, yield a robust increase in California wintertime precipitation. We also find robust California precipitation responses to aerosols but with opposite responses for sulfate versus black carbon aerosol. Sulfate aerosol increases California wintertime precipitation, whereas black carbon reduces it. Moreover, California precipitation is more sensitive to aerosols, particularly regional emissions from Europe and Asia, than to GHGs. These precipitation responses are consistent with shifts in the jet stream and altered moisture fluxes. Although the idealized nature of PDRMIP simulations precludes a formal attribution, our results suggest that aerosols can perturb precipitation and fresh water resources along the West Coast of the United States.

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