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Implications of CMIP6 projected drying trends for 21st century Amazonian drought risk
  • Luke A Parsons
Luke A Parsons
University of Washington

Corresponding Author:lakp@uw.edu

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Recent exceptionally hot droughts in Amazonia have highlighted the potential role of global warming in driving elevated fire risk and forest dieback. The previous generation of global climate models projected that eastern Amazonia would receive less future rainfall while western Amazonia would receive more rainfall, but many of these models disagreed on the sign of future precipitation trends in the region. Here Coupled Modeling Intercomparison Project, Phase 6 (CMIP6) models are used to examine the shifting risk of eastern Amazonian droughts under climate change. This new generation of models shows better agreement that the entire Amazonian basin will receive less future rainfall, with particularly strong agreement that eastern Amazonia will dry in the 21 century. These models suggest that global warming may be increasing the likelihood of exceptionally hot drought in the region, and by mid-century with unabated global warming, recent particularly warm and severe droughts will become more common. However, Amazonia is a region with a relatively sparse instrumental record that makes it difficult to test the ability of model simulations to reproduce observed long-term rainfall trends, and climate models have traditionally struggled to reproduce satellite-era observed trends in the region. These shortcomings highlight the need to improve confidence in global climate models’; ability to simulate future drought, even if more CMIP6 models agree on the sign of future rainfall trends.
Oct 2020Published in Earth's Future volume 8 issue 10. 10.1029/2020EF001608