Accounting for dynamics of mean precipitation in drought projections: A case study of Brazil for the 2050 and 2070 periods
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Changes in drought around the globe are among the most daunting potential effects of climate change. However, changes in droughts are often not well distinguished from changes in aridity levels. As drought constitutes conditions of aridity, the projected declines in mean precipitation tend to override changes in drought. This results in projections of more dire changes in drought than ever. The overestimate of changes can be attributed to the use of 'static' normal precipitation in the derivation of drought events. The failure in distinguishing drought from aridity is a conceptual problem of concern, particularly to drought policymakers. Given that the key objective of drought policies is to determine drought conditions, which are rare and so protracted that they are beyond the scope of normal risk management, for interventions. The main objective of this Case Study of Brazil is to demonstrate the differences between projections of changes in drought based on 'static' and '30-year dynamic' precipitation normal conditions. First we demonstrate that the 'static' based projections suggest 4-fold changes in the probability of drought-year occurrences against changes by the dynamic normal precipitation. The 'static-normal mean precipitation' based projections tend to be monotonically increasing in magnitude, and were arguably considered unrealistic. Based on the '30-year dynamic' normal precipitation conditions, the 13-member GCM ensemble median projection estimates of changes for 2050 under rcp4.5. 1 1rcp4.5: pathway of greenhouse gas emissions where total radiative forcing is stabilised (at 4.5Wm -2 ) shortly after 2100, without overshooting the long-run radiative forcing target level. and rcp8.5. 2 2rcp8.5: pathway of greenhouse gas emissions which, assumes high population and slow income growth with modest rates of technological change and energy intensity improvements, leading to high energy demand and greenhouse gases emissions in absence of climate change policies. suggest: (i) Significant differences between changes associated with rcp4.5 and rcp8.5, and are more noticeable for droughts at long than short timescales in the 2070; (ii) Overall, the results demonstrate more realistic projections of changes in drought characteristics over Brazil than previous projections based on 'static' normal precipitation conditions. However, the uncertainty of response of droughts to climate change in CMIP5 simulations is still large, regardless of GCMs selection and translation processes undertaken.
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