CLIMATE SCIENCE: A Regional Weather Forecast

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Science  21 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5576, pp. 2103a
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5576.2103a

Global climate models (GCMs) predict that doubling the concentration of atmospheric CO2 from its preindustrial value of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 560 ppm, which is expected to occur over the next 50 to 100 years, will increase the global average surface temperature 1.5° to 4.5°C. The changes in temperature and precipitation that people will experience, however, are expected to vary considerably at regional or local scales. Although GCMs do not yet allow for the calculation of variability in smaller areas, higher resolution regional climate models can provide detailed predictions.

Snyder et al. report results from a high-resolution climate model centered on California, run under atmospheric conditions of 280 and 560 ppm CO2 to predict changes in mean annual and monthly average temperatures, precipitation, and snow accumulation. They find that doubling CO2 produces annual average temperature increases up to 3.8°C and decreased snow accumulation everywhere in the region, with the greatest monthly surface warming at high elevations and mean annual precipitation increases in northern regions of up to 23%. — HJS

Geophys. Res. Lett. 29, 10.1029/2001GL014431 (2002).

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