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Journal Articles Climate Dynamics Year : 2017

Evaluation of current and projected Antarctic precipitation in CMIP5 models

Cyril Palerme
  • Function : Author
Christophe Genthon
  • Function : Author
Jennifer E. Kay
  • Function : Author
Norman B. Wood
  • Function : Author
Tristan L'Ecuyer
  • Function : Author


On average, the models in the Fifth Climate Model Intercomparison Project archive predict an increase in Antarctic precipitation from 5.5 to 24.5 % between 1986-2005 and 2080-2099, depending on greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. This translates into a moderation of future sea level rise ranging from -19 to -71 mm between 2006 and 2099. However, comparison with CloudSat and ERA-Interim data show that almost all the models overestimate current Antarctic precipitation, some by more than 100 %. If only the models that agree with CloudSat data within 20 % of error are considered, larger precipitation changes (from 7.4 to 29.3 %) and impact on sea level (from -25 to -85 mm) are predicted. A common practice of averaging all models to evaluate climate projections thus leads to a significant underestimation of the contribution of Antarctic precipitation to future sea level. Models simulate, on average, a 7.4 %/°C precipitation change with surface temperature warming. The models in better agreement with CloudSat observations for Antarctic snowfall predict, on average, larger temperature and Antarctic sea ice cover changes, which could explain the larger changes in Antarctic precipitation simulated by these models. The agreement between the models, CloudSat data and ERA-Interim is generally less in the interior of Antarctica than at the peripheries, but the interior is also where climate change will induce the smallest absolute change in precipitation. About three-quarters of the impact on sea level will result from precipitation change over the half most peripheral and lowest elevation part of the surface of Antarctica.
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insu-03727090 , version 1 (20-07-2022)




Cyril Palerme, Christophe Genthon, Chantal Claud, Jennifer E. Kay, Norman B. Wood, et al.. Evaluation of current and projected Antarctic precipitation in CMIP5 models. Climate Dynamics, 2017, 48, pp.225-239. ⟨10.1007/s00382-016-3071-1⟩. ⟨insu-03727090⟩
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