Volume 40, Issue 2 p. 1255-1278
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Extreme precipitation events under climate change in the Iberian Peninsula

Susana Cardoso Pereira

Corresponding Author

Susana Cardoso Pereira

CESAM-Department of Physics, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

Correspondence

Susana Cardoso Pereira, CICFANO Building, Department of Physics, University of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal.

Email: [email protected]

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Martinho Marta-Almeida

Martinho Marta-Almeida

Centro Oceanográfico de A Coruña, Instituto Español de Oceanografia, Galicia, Spain

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Ana C. Carvalho

Ana C. Carvalho

Research Department, Unit of Air Quality Research, SMHI/Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrköping, Sweden

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Alfredo Rocha

Alfredo Rocha

CESAM-Department of Physics, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

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First published: 07 August 2019
Citations: 54
Funding information CESAM (UID/AMB/50017 - POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007638), to FCT/MCTES through national funds (PIDDAC), and the co-funding by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020.; DOUROZONE project (PTDC/AAG-MAA/3335/2014; POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016778)

Abstract

Precipitation is one of the most important atmospheric variables to assess, particularly in the context of climate change. This study evaluates future changes in precipitation over the Iberian Peninsula (IP) under the RCP8.5 scenario. Changes are assessed for two future climate periods namely (2046–2065) and (2081–2100), relative to a recent reference climate (1986–2005). Here we introduce the concept of precipitation episodes (PEs) and estimate their statistical properties for the present climate and, their changes for future climate scenarios. PEs are defined by considering a full range of durations as well as intensities. This constitutes a novel approach to estimate changes with relevance, for example, for water resources applications. The climate simulations are performed with the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model. These are compared with an ensemble of other similar simulations from the Coordinated Downscaling Experiment initiative. This was done to evaluate the performance of the WRF model and also to estimate uncertainty of the derived future projections. Since models may present systematic errors, results from all simulations were previously bias corrected relative to observations using the same quantile mapping method. Under climate change, a great part of the region is expected to experience reduced annual precipitation of approximately 20–40% and reaching 80% in summer by the end of the XXI century. For the PEs, a large reduction in the average number of days and duration of all types of PEs is expected across all seasons and regions. The average intensity of episodes is projected to increase in winter and spring and decrease in summer. These results imply that climate change will likely influence precipitation and precipitation extremes in the 21st century, mostly in southern areas. These, together with projected warming may amplify desertification already taking place in the southern regions of the IP and cause stresses to water resources.