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The role of anthropogenic aerosols in future precipitation extremes over the Asian Monsoon Region

Zhao, Alcide D., Stevenson, David S., Bollasina, Massimo A.
Climate dynamics 2019 v.52 no.9-10 pp. 6257-6278
Earth system science, aerosols, climate, disasters, greenhouse gases, models, monsoon season, summer, East Asia, South Asia
The role of anthropogenic aerosols in future projections (up to 2100) of summertime precipitation and precipitation extremes over the Asian monsoon region is investigated, by comparing two sets of the Community Earth System Model (CESM1) large ensemble simulations under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 scenario (RCP8.5) and the corresponding scenario with aerosol fixed at 2005 levels (RCP8.5_FixA). The model is verified to be performing well in capturing present-day (1986–2005) climate and precipitation extremes. Our results suggest that the Asian monsoon region would become progressively warmer and wetter in the future under RCP8.5, while precipitation extremes will be significantly aggravated due to anthropogenic aerosol mitigation, particularly over East Asia. Specifically, aerosol reductions are found to shift the distribution of precipitation mean and extremes to larger values. For example, aerosol reductions would result in an increased likelihood of extreme precipitation (e.g. the maximum consecutive 5-day precipitation amount) and related disasters. Sensitivities of changes in precipitation mean and extremes to local warming from aerosol reductions are much larger than that from greenhouse gas increases. This is particularly important over East Asia in accordance with larger magnitudes of aerosol reductions compared to South Asia. Finally, by investigating the response of the climate system to aerosol changes, our findings demonstrate that aerosol induced precipitation changes would be dominated by aerosol–radiation–cloud forcing over northern East Asia and aerosol forcing induced large-scale circulation anomalies over southern East and South Asia.