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Summer-Winter Contrast in the Response of Precipitation Extremes to Climate Change over Northern Hemisphere Land
  • Andrew I.L. Williams,
  • Paul A. O'Gorman
Andrew I.L. Williams
University of Oxford, University of Oxford

Corresponding Author:andrew.williams@physics.ox.ac.uk

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Paul A. O'Gorman
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Climate models project a distinct seasonality to future changes in daily extreme precipitation. In particular, models project that over land in the extratropical Northern Hemisphere the summer response is substantially weaker than the winter response in percentage terms. Here we decompose the projected response into thermodynamic and dynamic contributions and show that the seasonal contrast arises due to a negative dynamic contribution in northern summer, and a positive dynamic contribution and an anomalously strong thermodynamic contribution in northern winter. The negative dynamic contribution in northern summer is due to weakened ascent and is strongly correlated with decreases in mean near-surface relative humidity which tend to inhibit convection. Finally, we show that the summer-winter contrast is also evident in observed trends of daily precipitation extremes in northern midlatitudes, which provides support for the contrast found in climate-model simulations.