Water vapour adjustments and responses differ between climate drivers

Oivind Hodnebrog, Gunnar Myhre, Bjorn H. Samset, Kari Alterskjær, Timothy Andrews, Olivier Boucher, Gregory Faluvegi, Dagmar Fläschner, Piers M Forster, Matthew Kasoar, Alf Kirkeväg, Jean Francois Lamarque, Dirk Olivié, Thomas B Richardson, Dilshad Shawki, Drew Shindell, Keith P Shine, Philip Stier, Toshihiko Takemura, Apostolos VoulgarakisDuncan Watson-Parris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Water vapour in the atmosphere is the source of a major climate feedback mechanism and potential increases in the availability of water vapour could have important consequences for mean and extreme precipitation. Future precipitation changes further depend on how the hydrological cycle responds to different drivers of climate change, such as greenhouse gases and aerosols. Currently, neither the total anthropogenic influence on the hydrological cycle nor that from individual drivers is constrained sufficiently to make solid projections. We investigate how integrated water vapour (IWV) responds to different drivers of climate change. Results from 11 global climate models have been used, based on simulations where <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">CO2</span>, methane, solar irradiance, black carbon (BC), and sulfate have been perturbed separately. While the global-mean IWV is usually assumed to increase by <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">ĝ1/47</span>% per kelvin of surface temperature change, we find that the feedback response of IWV differs somewhat between drivers. Fast responses, which include the initial radiative effect and rapid adjustments to an external forcing, amplify these differences. The resulting net changes in IWV range from <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">6.4±0.9</span>%K<span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">-1</span> for sulfate to <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">9.8±2</span>%K<span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">-1</span> for BC. We further calculate the relationship between global changes in IWV and precipitation, which can be characterized by quantifying changes in atmospheric water vapour lifetime. Global climate models simulate a substantial increase in the lifetime, from <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">8.2±0.5</span> to <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">9.9±0.7</span>d between 1986-2005 and 2081-2100 under a high-emission scenario, and we discuss to what extent the water vapour lifetime provides additional information compared to analysis of IWV and precipitation separately. We conclude that<span idCombining double low line"page12888"/> water vapour lifetime changes are an important indicator of changes in precipitation patterns and that BC is particularly efficient in prolonging the mean time, and therefore likely the distance, between evaporation and precipitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12887-12899
Number of pages13
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume19
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 17 2019

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water vapor
climate
black carbon
hydrological cycle
global climate
climate modeling
sulfate
climate feedback
climate change
feedback mechanism
global change
irradiance
greenhouse gas
surface temperature
evaporation
methane
aerosol
atmosphere

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

Hodnebrog, O., Myhre, G., Samset, B. H., Alterskjær, K., Andrews, T., Boucher, O., ... Watson-Parris, D. (2019). Water vapour adjustments and responses differ between climate drivers. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19(20), 12887-12899. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-19-12887-2019

Water vapour adjustments and responses differ between climate drivers. / Hodnebrog, Oivind; Myhre, Gunnar; Samset, Bjorn H.; Alterskjær, Kari; Andrews, Timothy; Boucher, Olivier; Faluvegi, Gregory; Fläschner, Dagmar; M Forster, Piers; Kasoar, Matthew; Kirkeväg, Alf; Lamarque, Jean Francois; Olivié, Dirk; B Richardson, Thomas; Shawki, Dilshad; Shindell, Drew; P Shine, Keith; Stier, Philip; Takemura, Toshihiko; Voulgarakis, Apostolos; Watson-Parris, Duncan.

In: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 19, No. 20, 17.10.2019, p. 12887-12899.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hodnebrog, O, Myhre, G, Samset, BH, Alterskjær, K, Andrews, T, Boucher, O, Faluvegi, G, Fläschner, D, M Forster, P, Kasoar, M, Kirkeväg, A, Lamarque, JF, Olivié, D, B Richardson, T, Shawki, D, Shindell, D, P Shine, K, Stier, P, Takemura, T, Voulgarakis, A & Watson-Parris, D 2019, 'Water vapour adjustments and responses differ between climate drivers', Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 19, no. 20, pp. 12887-12899. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-19-12887-2019
Hodnebrog O, Myhre G, Samset BH, Alterskjær K, Andrews T, Boucher O et al. Water vapour adjustments and responses differ between climate drivers. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 2019 Oct 17;19(20):12887-12899. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-19-12887-2019
Hodnebrog, Oivind ; Myhre, Gunnar ; Samset, Bjorn H. ; Alterskjær, Kari ; Andrews, Timothy ; Boucher, Olivier ; Faluvegi, Gregory ; Fläschner, Dagmar ; M Forster, Piers ; Kasoar, Matthew ; Kirkeväg, Alf ; Lamarque, Jean Francois ; Olivié, Dirk ; B Richardson, Thomas ; Shawki, Dilshad ; Shindell, Drew ; P Shine, Keith ; Stier, Philip ; Takemura, Toshihiko ; Voulgarakis, Apostolos ; Watson-Parris, Duncan. / Water vapour adjustments and responses differ between climate drivers. In: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 2019 ; Vol. 19, No. 20. pp. 12887-12899.
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T1 - Water vapour adjustments and responses differ between climate drivers

AU - Hodnebrog, Oivind

AU - Myhre, Gunnar

AU - Samset, Bjorn H.

AU - Alterskjær, Kari

AU - Andrews, Timothy

AU - Boucher, Olivier

AU - Faluvegi, Gregory

AU - Fläschner, Dagmar

AU - M Forster, Piers

AU - Kasoar, Matthew

AU - Kirkeväg, Alf

AU - Lamarque, Jean Francois

AU - Olivié, Dirk

AU - B Richardson, Thomas

AU - Shawki, Dilshad

AU - Shindell, Drew

AU - P Shine, Keith

AU - Stier, Philip

AU - Takemura, Toshihiko

AU - Voulgarakis, Apostolos

AU - Watson-Parris, Duncan

PY - 2019/10/17

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N2 - Water vapour in the atmosphere is the source of a major climate feedback mechanism and potential increases in the availability of water vapour could have important consequences for mean and extreme precipitation. Future precipitation changes further depend on how the hydrological cycle responds to different drivers of climate change, such as greenhouse gases and aerosols. Currently, neither the total anthropogenic influence on the hydrological cycle nor that from individual drivers is constrained sufficiently to make solid projections. We investigate how integrated water vapour (IWV) responds to different drivers of climate change. Results from 11 global climate models have been used, based on simulations where CO2, methane, solar irradiance, black carbon (BC), and sulfate have been perturbed separately. While the global-mean IWV is usually assumed to increase by ĝ1/47% per kelvin of surface temperature change, we find that the feedback response of IWV differs somewhat between drivers. Fast responses, which include the initial radiative effect and rapid adjustments to an external forcing, amplify these differences. The resulting net changes in IWV range from 6.4±0.9%K-1 for sulfate to 9.8±2%K-1 for BC. We further calculate the relationship between global changes in IWV and precipitation, which can be characterized by quantifying changes in atmospheric water vapour lifetime. Global climate models simulate a substantial increase in the lifetime, from 8.2±0.5 to 9.9±0.7d between 1986-2005 and 2081-2100 under a high-emission scenario, and we discuss to what extent the water vapour lifetime provides additional information compared to analysis of IWV and precipitation separately. We conclude that water vapour lifetime changes are an important indicator of changes in precipitation patterns and that BC is particularly efficient in prolonging the mean time, and therefore likely the distance, between evaporation and precipitation.

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