Trends in CMIP5 rainfall patterns over southwestern australia

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Previous work has shown that the sharp fall in winter rainfall over coastal southwestern Australia in the 1970s was mainly due to a fall in the frequency of fronts; the gradual reduction in rainfall since the late 1990s was due to a reduction in the number of light-rain days; and the increased inland summer rainfall in the 1970s was due to an increased number of easterly troughs. The current paper extends this earlier work by identifying the rainfall patterns in the region in 14 CMIP5 models for the period 1980-2005 and by calculating how these patterns are projected to change in the twenty-first century. The patterns are identified using k-means clustering of the rainfall, which are validated against observed rainfall clusters. Although the agreement between the models and the observation is generally good, the models underestimate the frequency of raining fronts. In both representative concentration pathway 4.5 and 8.5 (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) scenarios the number of dry days increases significantly at the expense of light-rain days and frontal rainfall. However, these trends are twice as large in the RCP8.5 scenario as in the RCP4.5 scenario. The reduction in the rainfall from the historical period to the second half of the twenty-first century is produced mainly by a reduction in both the frequency and intensity of light rain and a reduction in the frequency of fronts in the westerlies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1779-1788
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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