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  • Andrews, T., and P.M. Forster, 2010: The transient response of global-mean precipitation to increasing carbon dioxide levels. Environ. Res. Lett., 5, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/5/2/025212.

The transient response of global-mean precipitation to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels of 1% yr − 1 is investigated in 13 fully coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) and compared to a period of stabilization. During the period of stabilization, when carbon dioxide levels are held constant at twice their unperturbed level and the climate left to warm, precipitation increases at a rate of ~ 2.4% per unit of global-mean surface-air-temperature change in the AOGCMs. However, when carbon dioxide levels are increasing, precipitation increases at a smaller rate of ~ 1.5% per unit of global-mean surface-air-temperature change. This difference can be understood by decomposing the precipitation response into an increase from the response to the global surface-temperature increase (and the climate feedbacks it induces), and a fast atmospheric response to the carbon dioxide radiative forcing that acts to decrease precipitation. According to the multi-model mean, stabilizing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide would lead to a greater rate of precipitation change per unit of global surface-temperature change.


Last Updated: 2010-06-29

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