GEWEX Hydro-Climate Sensitivity Workshop

From a climate perspective, it is imperative to understand the natural variability of precipitation and land water exchanges and storage, as well as susceptibility to change by external forcings. To this end, a small workshop was convened at the University of Exeter, where researchers aimed to understand the susceptibility of the hydrological cycle to forcings associated with climate change. It focused on the topic of “hydrological sensitivity,” or how precipitation is expected to change in a warming world, and reviewed our comprehension of it from multiple fronts, including observations, model, and theoretical perspectives. The workshop assessed what is understood on various time and space scales, from energetic controls at global scales to regional controls. Non-dynamical (i.e., energetic) controls of precipitation, as well as local and dynamical controls, were examined. Reasons why we might expect progress on understanding fresh water availability in a changing climate were also underscored and gaps in progress were identified.

The presentations collectively explored the reasonable bounds on estimates of hydrological sensitivities and whether there is evidence for these sensitivities to be different in the real Earth system than those derived from models. Links to the presentations can be found on the password-protected page at abcdefghi.