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Atmosphere 2013, 4(3), 254-271; doi:10.3390/atmos4030254

Representation of Extreme Precipitation Events Leading to Opposite Climate Change Signals over the Congo Basin

Climate Service Center, Fischertwiete 1, D-20095 Hamburg, Germany
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstr. 53, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 July 2013 / Revised: 26 August 2013 / Accepted: 28 August 2013 / Published: 4 September 2013
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We investigate the reasons for the opposite climate change signals in precipitation between the regional climate model REMO and its driving earth system model MPI-ESM over the greater Congo region. Three REMO simulations following three RCP scenarios (RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5) are conducted, and it is found that the opposite signals, with REMO showing a decrease and MPI-ESM an increase in the future precipitation, diverge strongly as we move from a less extreme to a more extreme scenario. It has been shown that REMO simulates a much higher number of extreme rainfall events than MPI-ESM. This results in higher surface runoff and thus less soil infiltration, which leads to lower amounts of soil moisture in REMO. This further leads to less moisture recycling via evapotranspiration, which in turn results in less precipitation over the region. In the presence of a strong radiative forcing, the hydrological cycle becomes less intense in REMO and a downward trend in hydrological variables is observed. Contrary to this, the higher amounts of soil-moisture due to the lack of extreme rainfall events in MPI-ESM enhance the hydrological cycle. In the presence of strong radiative forcing, higher amounts of soil moisture result in increased evapotranspiration which in turn results in the higher amount of precipitation. It is concluded that the land-atmosphere coupling over the Congo region is very sensitive to the change in soil moisture amounts, which is likely to play a major role in global warming conditions. Therefore, adequate and improved representation of soil processes in climate models is essential to study the effects of climate change. However, the better representation of extreme rainfall events in REMO compared to MPI-ESM can be regarded as an added value of the model.
Keywords: REMO; MPI-ESM; extreme rainfall events; hydrological cycle; land-atmosphere coupling REMO; MPI-ESM; extreme rainfall events; hydrological cycle; land-atmosphere coupling
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Saeed, F.; Haensler, A.; Weber, T.; Hagemann, S.; Jacob, D. Representation of Extreme Precipitation Events Leading to Opposite Climate Change Signals over the Congo Basin. Atmosphere 2013, 4, 254-271.

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