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Absorbing aerosol choices influence precipitation changes across future scenarios
  • Isabel L. McCoy,
  • Mika Vogt,
  • Robert Wood
Isabel L. McCoy
University of Miami, University of Miami

Corresponding Author:imccoy@ucar.edu

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Mika Vogt
University of Washington, University of Washington
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Robert Wood
University of Washington, University of Washington
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Future precipitation changes are controlled by the atmospheric energy budget, with temperature, water vapor, and absorbing aerosols playing dominant roles in driving radiative changes. Atmospheric energy budgets are calculated for different Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) using ScenarioMIP projections from phase 6 of the Climate Model Intercomparison Project and are used to quantify the influence of 21st century aerosol cleanup on precipitation. Absorbing aerosol influences on shortwave absorption are isolated from the effects of water vapor. Apparent hydrologic sensitivity is ~40% higher for the “Middle of the Road” (SSP2-4.5) scenario with aerosol cleanup than for the “Regional Rivalry” (SSP3-7.0) scenario that maintains aerosol. Regionally, cleanup-induced changes in the atmospheric energy budget are of a similar magnitude to the precipitation increases themselves and are larger than the influence of changes in atmospheric circulation. Policy choices about future absorbing aerosol emissions will therefore have major impacts on global and regional precipitation changes.
28 Apr 2022Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 49 issue 8. 10.1029/2022GL097717