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  • Liepert, B. G., and M. Previdi, 2008: Do models and observations disagree on the rainfall response to global warming?. J. Clim.. Submitted.

A recent study (Wentz et al., 2007) showed that satellite derived global mean
precipitation has increased by 1.4±0.5% decade-1 (7% per degree K increase in global
mean surface air temperature) during the period 1987 to 2006. This rate of increase is
about that expected from the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, which specifies the
temperature dependence of the water holding capacity of the atmosphere. The eight
CMIP3 coupled ocean-atmosphere models analyzed here, however, exhibit a mean
precipitation increase of only 1.9% K-1 for the 20-year period from 1987 to 2006, and
1.4% K-1 when averaged over the entire 20th and 21st centuries. It is suggested that the
models’ inability to reproduce the satellite measured increase in global mean
precipitation over the past two decades may be due in part to their failure to account for
the observed reduction in global dimming (observed increase in absorbed surface solar
radiation) that occurred during this time period.

Last Updated: 2008-08-22

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