21st Century alpine climate change

Kotlarski, Sven ; Gobiet, Andreas ; Morin, Samuel ; Olefs, Marc ; Rajczak, Jan ; Samacoïts, Raphaëlle

Année de publication
<p align=justify>A comprehensive assessment of twenty-first century climate change in the European Alps is presented. The analysis is based on the EURO-CORDEX regional climate model ensemble available at two grid spacings (12.5 and 50 km) and for three different greenhouse gas emission scenarios (RCPs 2.6, 4.5 and 8.5). The core simulation ensemble has been subject to a dedicated evaluation exercise carried out in the frame of the CH2018 Climate Scenarios for Switzerland. Results reveal that the entire Alpine region will face a warmer climate in the course of the twenty-first century for all emission scenarios considered. Strongest warming is projected for the summer season, for regions south of the main Alpine ridge and for the high-end RCP 8.5 scenario. Depending on the season, medium to high elevations might experience an amplified warming. Model uncertainty can be considerable, but the major warming patterns are consistent across the ensemble. For precipitation, a seasonal shift of precipitation amounts from summer to winter over most parts of the domain is projected. However, model uncertainty is high and individual simulations can show change signals of opposite sign. Daily precipitation intensity is projected to increase in all seasons and all sub-domains, while the wet-day frequency will decrease in the summer season. The projected temperature change in summer is negatively correlated with the precipitation change, i.e. simulations and/or regions with a strong seasonal mean warming typically show a stronger precipitation decrease. By contrast, a positive correlation between temperature change and precipitation change is found for winter. Among other indicators, snow cover will be strongly affected by the projected climatic changes and will be subject to a widespread decrease except for very high elevation settings. In general and for all indicators, the magnitude of the change signals increases with the assumed greenhouse gas forcing, i.e., is smallest for RCP 2.6 and largest for RCP 8.5 with RCP 4.5 being located in between. These results largely agree with previous works based on older generations of RCM ensembles but, due to the comparatively large ensemble size and the high spatial resolution, allow for a more decent assessment of inherent projection uncertainties and of spatial details of future Alpine climate change.</p>
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