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Challenges in quantifying changes in the global water cycle

Challenges in quantifying changes in the global water cycle
Challenges in quantifying changes in the global water cycle
Understanding observed changes to the global water cycle is key to predicting future climate changes and their impacts. While many datasets document crucial variables such as precipitation, ocean salinity, runoff, and humidity, most are uncertain for determining long-term changes. In situ networks provide long time series over land, but are sparse in many regions, particularly the tropics. Satellite and reanalysis datasets provide global coverage, but their long-term stability is lacking. However, comparisons of changes among related variables can give insights into the robustness of observed changes. For example, ocean salinity, interpreted with an understanding of ocean processes, can help cross-validate precipitation. Observational evidence for human influences on the water cycle is emerging, but uncertainties resulting from internal variability and observational errors are too large to determine whether the observed and simulated changes are consistent. Improvements to the in situ and satellite observing networks that monitor the changing water cycle are required, yet continued data coverage is threatened by funding reductions. Uncertainty both in the role of anthropogenic aerosols and because of the large climate variability presently limits confidence in attribution of observed changes.
0003-0007
1097-1115
Hegerl, G.C.
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Black, Emily
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Allan, Richard P.
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Ingram, W.J.
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Polson, D.
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Trenberth, K.E.
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Chadwick, R.S.
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Arkin, P.A.
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Balan Sarojini, B.
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Becker, A.
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Dai, A.
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Durack, P.J.
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Easterling, D.
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Fowler, H.J.
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Kendon, E.J.
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Huffman, G.J.
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Liu, C.
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Marsh, Robert
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New, M.
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Osborn, T.J.
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Skliris, Nikolaos
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Stott, P.A.
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Vidale, P-L.
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Wilcox, L.J.
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Hegerl, G.C.
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Black, Emily
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Allan, Richard P.
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Ingram, W.J.
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Polson, D.
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Trenberth, K.E.
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Chadwick, R.S.
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Arkin, P.A.
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Balan Sarojini, B.
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Becker, A.
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Dai, A.
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Durack, P.J.
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Easterling, D.
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Fowler, H.J.
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Kendon, E.J.
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Huffman, G.J.
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Liu, C.
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Marsh, Robert
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New, M.
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Osborn, T.J.
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Skliris, Nikolaos
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Stott, P.A.
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Vidale, P-L.
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Wijffels, S.E.
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Wilcox, L.J.
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Willett, K.M.
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Zhang, X.
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Hegerl, G.C., Black, Emily, Allan, Richard P., Ingram, W.J., Polson, D., Trenberth, K.E., Chadwick, R.S., Arkin, P.A., Balan Sarojini, B., Becker, A., Dai, A., Durack, P.J., Easterling, D., Fowler, H.J., Kendon, E.J., Huffman, G.J., Liu, C., Marsh, Robert, New, M., Osborn, T.J., Skliris, Nikolaos, Stott, P.A., Vidale, P-L., Wijffels, S.E., Wilcox, L.J., Willett, K.M. and Zhang, X. (2015) Challenges in quantifying changes in the global water cycle. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 96 (7), 1097-1115. (doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00212.1).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Understanding observed changes to the global water cycle is key to predicting future climate changes and their impacts. While many datasets document crucial variables such as precipitation, ocean salinity, runoff, and humidity, most are uncertain for determining long-term changes. In situ networks provide long time series over land, but are sparse in many regions, particularly the tropics. Satellite and reanalysis datasets provide global coverage, but their long-term stability is lacking. However, comparisons of changes among related variables can give insights into the robustness of observed changes. For example, ocean salinity, interpreted with an understanding of ocean processes, can help cross-validate precipitation. Observational evidence for human influences on the water cycle is emerging, but uncertainties resulting from internal variability and observational errors are too large to determine whether the observed and simulated changes are consistent. Improvements to the in situ and satellite observing networks that monitor the changing water cycle are required, yet continued data coverage is threatened by funding reductions. Uncertainty both in the role of anthropogenic aerosols and because of the large climate variability presently limits confidence in attribution of observed changes.

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Published date: 6 August 2015

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 432738
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/432738
ISSN: 0003-0007
PURE UUID: 46001c4a-59db-4e72-a443-1d2d16393b59

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Date deposited: 25 Jul 2019 16:30
Last modified: 19 Nov 2020 17:30

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Contributors

Author: G.C. Hegerl
Author: Emily Black
Author: Richard P. Allan
Author: W.J. Ingram
Author: D. Polson
Author: K.E. Trenberth
Author: R.S. Chadwick
Author: P.A. Arkin
Author: B. Balan Sarojini
Author: A. Becker
Author: A. Dai
Author: P.J. Durack
Author: D. Easterling
Author: H.J. Fowler
Author: E.J. Kendon
Author: G.J. Huffman
Author: C. Liu
Author: Robert Marsh
Author: M. New
Author: T.J. Osborn
Author: P.A. Stott
Author: P-L. Vidale
Author: S.E. Wijffels
Author: L.J. Wilcox
Author: K.M. Willett
Author: X. Zhang

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