Understanding how human influence on the climate is affecting precipitation around the world is immensely important for defining mitigation policies, and for adaptation planning. Yet despite increasing evidence for the influence of climate change on global patterns of precipitation, and expectations that significant changes in regional precipitation should have already occurred as a result of human influence on climate, compelling evidence of anthropogenic fingerprints on regional precipitation is obscured by observational and modelling uncertainties; and by using current methods, it is likely to remain so for years to come. This is in spite of substantial ongoing improvements in models, new reanalyses and a satellite record that spans over thirty years. If we are to quantify how human-induced climate change is affecting the regional water cycle, we need to consider new ways of identifying the effects of natural and anthropogenic influences on precipitation that take full advantage of our physical expectations.
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A framework for detection and attribution of regional precipitation change: Application to the United States historical record
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This work is supported by Horyuji PAGODA project of the Changing Water Cycle programme of the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) (Grant NE/I006672/1) and by the Joint DECC/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101). B.B.S. acknowledges joint support from the UK NERC (Grant NE/I006672/1) and the Met Office Hadley Centre, and a discussion with Pier Luigi Vidale and Anne Verhoef on the atmospheric-land surface processes. E.B. was supported by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science — Climate division core research programme and the following research grants: HyCristal (NE/M020371/1), SatWIN-Scale (NE/M008797/1) and BRAVE (NE/M008983/1).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Sarojini, B., Stott, P. & Black, E. Detection and attribution of human influence on regional precipitation. Nature Clim Change 6, 669–675 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2976
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