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Precipitation Efficiency Constraint on Climate Change

Cite this dataset

Li, Ryan (2022). Precipitation Efficiency Constraint on Climate Change [Dataset]. Dryad.


Precipitation efficiency (PE) relates cloud condensation to precipitation and intrinsically binds atmospheric circulation to the hydrological cycle. Due to PE’s inherent microphysical dependencies, definitions and estimates vary immensely. Consequently, PE’s sensitivity to greenhouse warming and implications for climate change are poorly understood. Here, we quantify PE’s role in climate change by defining a simple index as the ratio of surface precipitation to condensed water path. This macroscopic metric is reconcilable with microphysical PE measures and higher is associated with stronger mean Walker circulation. We further find that state-of-the-art climate models disagree on the sign and magnitude of future changes. This sign disagreement originates from models’ convective parameterizations. Critically, models with increasing under greenhouse warming, in line with cloud-resolving simulations, show greater slowdown of the large-scale Hadley and Walker circulations and a two-fold greater increase in extreme rainfall than models with decreasing.


National Science Foundation, Award: 1352417