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Title: The Mesoscale Response to Global Warming over the Pacific Northwest Evaluated Using a Regional Climate Model Ensemble
Abstract This paper describes the downscaling of an ensemble of 12 general circulation models (GCMs) using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model at 12-km grid spacing over the period 1970–2099, examining the mesoscale impacts of global warming as well as the uncertainties in its mesoscale expression. The RCP8.5 emissions scenario was used to drive both global and regional climate models. The regional climate modeling system reduced bias and improved realism for a historical period, in contrast to substantial errors for the GCM simulations driven by lack of resolution. The regional climate ensemble indicated several mesoscale responses to global warming that were not apparent in the global model simulations, such as enhanced continental interior warming during both winter and summer as well as increasing winter precipitation trends over the windward slopes of regional terrain, with declining trends to the lee of major barriers. During summer there is general drying, except to the east of the Cascades. The 1 April snowpack declines are large over the lower-to-middle slopes of regional terrain, with small snowpack increases over the lower elevations of the interior. Snow-albedo feedbacks are very different between GCM and RCM projections, with the GCMs producing large, unphysical areas of snowpack more » loss and enhanced warming. Daily average winds change little under global warming, but maximum easterly winds decline modestly, driven by a preferential sea level pressure decline over the continental interior. Although temperatures warm continuously over the domain after approximately 2010, with slight acceleration over time, occurrences of temperature extremes increase rapidly during the second half of the twenty-first century. Significance Statement This paper provides a unique high-resolution view of projected climate change over the Pacific Northwest and does so using an ensemble of regional climate models, affording a look at the uncertainties in local impacts of global warming. The paper examines regional meteorological processes influenced by global warming and provides guidance for adaptation and preparation. « less
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Award ID(s):
2040626 2125646
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
2035 to 2053
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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