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Climate change uncertainty for daily minimum and maximum temperatures: a model inter-comparison

Description: Several impacts of climate change may depend more on changes in mean daily minimum (T{sub min}) or maximum (T{sub max}) temperatures than daily averages. To evaluate uncertainties in these variables, we compared projections of T{sub min} and T{sub max} changes by 2046-2065 for 12 climate models under an A2 emission scenario. Average modeled changes in T{sub max} were slightly lower in most locations than T{sub min}, consistent with historical trends exhibiting a reduction in diurnal temperature ranges. However, while average changes in T{sub min} and T{sub max} were similar, the inter-model variability of T{sub min} and T{sub max} projections exhibited substantial differences. For example, inter-model standard deviations of June-August T{sub max} changes were more than 50% greater than for T{sub min} throughout much of North America, Europe, and Asia. Model differences in cloud changes, which exert relatively greater influence on T{sub max} during summer and T{sub min} during winter, were identified as the main source of uncertainty disparities. These results highlight the importance of considering separately projections for T{sub max} and T{sub min} when assessing climate change impacts, even in cases where average projected changes are similar. In addition, impacts that are most sensitive to summertime T{sub min} or wintertime T{sub max} may be more predictable than suggested by analyses using only projections of daily average temperatures.
Date: November 9, 2006
Creator: Lobell, D; Bonfils, C & Duffy, P
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Empirical evidence for a recent slowdown in irrigation-induced cooling

Description: Understanding the influence of past land use changes on climate is needed to improve regional projections of future climate change and inform debates about the tradeoffs associated with land use decisions. The effects of rapid expansion of irrigated area in the 20th century has remained unclear relative to other land use changes, such as urbanization, that affected a similar total land area. Using spatial and temporal variations in temperature and irrigation extent observed in California, we show that irrigation expansion has had a large cooling effect on summertime average daily daytime temperatures (-0.15 to -0.25 C.decade{sup -1}), which corresponds to a cooling estimated at -2.0 - -3.3 C since the introduction of irrigation practice. Irrigation has negligible effects on nighttime temperatures, leading to a net cooling effect of irrigation on climate (-0.06 to -0.19 C.decade{sup -1}). Stabilization of irrigated area has occurred in California since 1980 and is expected in the near future for most irrigated regions. The suppression of past human-induced greenhouse warming by increased irrigation is therefore likely to slow in the future, and a potential decrease in irrigation may even contribute to a more rapid warming. Changes in irrigation alone are not expected to influence broadscale temperatures, but they may introduce large uncertainties in climate projections for irrigated agricultural regions, which provide roughly 40% of global food production.
Date: January 19, 2007
Creator: Bonfils, C & Lobell, D
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Comment on "Methodology and results of calculating Central California surface temperature trends: evidence of human-induced climate change?" by Christy et al. (2006)

Description: Understanding the causes of observed regional temperature trends is essential to projecting the human influences on climate, and the societal impacts of these influences. In their recent study, Christy et al. (2006, hereinafter CRNG06) hypothesized that the presence of irrigated soils is responsible for rapid warming of summer nights occurring in California's Central Valley over the last century (1910-2003), an assumption that rules out any significant effect due to increased greenhouse gases, urbanization, or other factors in this region. We question this interpretation, which is based on an apparent contrast in summer nighttime temperature trends between the San Joaquin Valley ({approx} +0.3 {+-} 0.1 C/decade) and the adjacent western slopes of the Sierra Nevada (-0.25 {+-} 0.15 C/decade), as well as the amplitude, sign and uncertainty of the Sierra nighttime temperature trend itself. We, however, do not dispute the finding of other Sierra and Valley trends. Regarding the veracity of the apparent Sierra nighttime temperature trend, CRNG06 generated the Valley and Sierra time-series using a meticulous procedure that eliminates discontinuities and isolates homogeneous segments in temperature records from 41 weather stations. This procedure yields an apparent cooling of about -0.25 {+-} 0.15 C/decade in the Sierra region. However, because removal of one of the 137 Sierra segments, from the most elevated site (Huntington Lake, 2140m), causes an increase in nighttime temperature trend as large as the trend itself (of +0.25 C/decade, CH06), and leads to a zero trend, the apparent cooling of summer nights in the Sierra regions seems, in fact, largely uncertain.
Date: March 28, 2006
Creator: Bonfils, C; Duffy, P & Lobell, D
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Identification of external influences on temperatures in California

Description: We use eight different observational datasets to estimate California-average temperature trends over 1950-1999. Observed results are compared to trends from a suite of control simulations of natural internal climate variability. Observed increases in annual-mean surface temperature are distinguishable from climate noise in some but not all observational datasets. The most robust results are large positive trends in mean and maximum daily temperatures in late winter/early spring, as well as increases in minimum daily temperatures from January to September. These trends are inconsistent with model-based estimates of natural internal climate variability, and thus require one or more external forcing agents to be explained. Our results suggest that the warming of Californian winters over the second half of the twentieth century is associated with human-induced changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation. We also hypothesize that the lack of a detectable increase in summertime maximum temperature arises from a cooling associated with large-scale irrigation. This cooling may have, until now, counteracted the warming induced by increasing greenhouse gases and urbanization effects.
Date: June 1, 2006
Creator: Bonfils, C; Duffy, P; Santer, B; Wigley, T; Lobell, D; Phillips, T et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Interpretation of Recent Temperature Trends in California

Description: Regional-scale climate change and associated societal impacts result from large-scale (e.g. well-mixed greenhouse gases) and more local (e.g. land-use change) 'forcing' (perturbing) agents. It is essential to understand these forcings and climate responses to them, in order to predict future climate and societal impacts. California is a fine example of the complex effects of multiple climate forcings. The State's natural climate is diverse, highly variable, and strongly influenced by ENSO. Humans are perturbing this complex system through urbanization, irrigation, and emission of multiple types of aerosols and greenhouse gases. Despite better-than-average observational coverage, we are only beginning to understand the manifestations of these forcings in California's temperature record.
Date: September 21, 2007
Creator: Duffy, P B; Bonfils, C & Lobell, D
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Potential bias of model projected greenhouse warming in irrigated regions

Description: Atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) used to project climate responses to increased CO{sub 2} generally omit irrigation of agricultural land. Using the NCAR CAM3 GCM coupled to a slab-ocean model, we find that inclusion of an extreme irrigation scenario has a small effect on the simulated temperature and precipitation response to doubled CO{sub 2} in most regions, but reduced warming by as much as 1 C in some agricultural regions, such as Europe and India. This interaction between CO{sub 2} and irrigation occurs in cases where agriculture is a major fraction of the land surface and where, in the absence of irrigation, soil moisture declines are projected to provide a positive feedback to temperature change. The reduction of warming is less than 25% of the temperature increase modeled for doubled CO{sub 2} in most regions; thus greenhouse warming will still be dominant. However, the results indicate that land use interactions may be an important component of climate change uncertainty in some agricultural regions. While irrigated lands comprise only {approx}2% of the land surface, they contribute over 40% of global food production. Climate changes in these regions are therefore particularly important to society despite their relatively small contribution to average global climate.
Date: April 27, 2006
Creator: Lobell, D; Bala, G; Bonfils, C & Duffy, P
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Impacts of Future Climate Change on California Perennial Crop Yields: Model Projections with Climate and Crop Uncertainties

Description: Most research on the agricultural impacts of climate change has focused on the major annual crops, yet perennial cropping systems are less adaptable and thus potentially more susceptible to damage. Improved assessments of yield responses to future climate are needed to prioritize adaptation strategies in the many regions where perennial crops are economically and culturally important. These impact assessments, in turn, must rely on climate and crop models that contain often poorly defined uncertainties. We evaluated the impact of climate change on six major perennial crops in California: wine grapes, almonds, table grapes, oranges, walnuts, and avocados. Outputs from multiple climate models were used to evaluate climate uncertainty, while multiple statistical crop models, derived by resampling historical databases, were used to address crop response uncertainties. We find that, despite these uncertainties, climate change in California is very likely to put downward pressure on yields of almonds, walnuts, avocados, and table grapes by 2050. Without CO{sub 2} fertilization or adaptation measures, projected losses range from 0 to >40% depending on the crop and the trajectory of climate change. Climate change uncertainty generally had a larger impact on projections than crop model uncertainty, although the latter was substantial for several crops. Opportunities for expansion into cooler regions are identified, but this adaptation would require substantial investments and may be limited by non-climatic constraints. Given the long time scales for growth and production of orchards and vineyards ({approx}30 years), climate change should be an important factor in selecting perennial varieties and deciding whether and where perennials should be planted.
Date: January 10, 2006
Creator: Lobell, D; Field, C; Cahill, K & Bonfils, C
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Causes of Ocean Surface temperature Changes in Atlantic andPacific Topical Cyclogenesis Regions

Description: Previous research has identified links between changes in sea surface temperature (SST) and hurricane intensity. We use climate models to study the possible causes of SST changes in Atlantic and Pacific tropical cyclogenesis regions. The observed SST increases in these regions range from 0.32 to 0.67 C over the 20th century. The 22 climate models examined here suggest that century-timescale SST changes of this magnitude cannot be explained solely by unforced variability of the climate system, even under conservative assumptions regarding the magnitude of this variability. Model simulations that include external forcing by combined anthropogenic and natural factors are generally capable of replicating observed SST changes in both tropical cyclogenesis regions.
Date: January 31, 2006
Creator: Santer, B.D.; Wigley, T.M.L.; Gleckler, P.J.; Bonfils, C.; Wehner, M.F.; AchutaRao, K. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department