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Inter-annual variability of precipitation over Southern Mexico and Central America and its relationship to sea surface temperature from a set of future projections from CMIP5 GCMs and RegCM4 CORDEX simulations

Fuentes-Franco, Ramón, Coppola, Erika, Giorgi, Filippo, Pavia, Edgar G., Diro, Gulilat Tefera, Graef, Federico
Climate dynamics 2015 v.45 no.1-2 pp. 425-440
climate, climate models, data collection, greenhouse gases, surface water temperature, wet season, wind, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico
An ensemble of future climate projections performed with the regional climate model RegCM4 is used to assess changes in inter-annual variability of precipitation over Southern Mexico and Central America (SMECAM). Two different Global Climate Models (GCMs) from the coupled model intercomparison project phase 5 are used to provide boundary conditions for two different RegCM4 configurations. This results in four regional climate projections extending from 1970 to 2100 for the greenhouse gas representative concentration pathway RCP8.5. The precipitation variability over the SMECAM region and its dependence on the gradient between Atlantic and Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies are verified by reproducing SST anomaly patterns during wettest and driest years similar to those seen in observational datasets. RegCM4 does a comparably better job than the driving GCMs. This strong relationship between precipitation and SST anomalies does not appear to change substantially under future climate conditions. For the rainy season, June to September, we find a future change in inter-annual variability of precipitation towards a much greater occurrence of very dry seasons over the SMECAM region, with this change being more pronounced in the regional than in the global model projections. A greater warming of the Tropical Northeastern Pacific (TNP) compared to the Tropical North Atlantic (TNA), which causes stronger wind fluxes from the TNA to the TNP through the Caribbean Low Level Jet, is identified as the main process responsible for these drier conditions.