Projected precipitation changes within the Great Lakes and Western Lake Erie Basin: a multi‐model analysis of intensity and seasonality
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Projected precipitation changes within the Great Lakes and Western Lake Erie Basin: a multi‐model analysis of intensity and seasonality

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  • Journal Title:
    International Journal of Climatology
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    The Great Lakes region encompasses the largest freshwater lake network in the world and supports a diverse network of agriculture, transportation, and tourism. Recently, Lake Erie has experienced increased hypoxia events, which have been attributed to agricultural practices and changes in run‐off. Here we examine the projected changes in extreme precipitation events to address concerns regarding regional agriculture, surface run‐off, and subsequent water quality. Precipitation projections within the overall Great Lakes Basin and the Western Lake Erie Basin subregion are examined using climate model simulations of varying spatial resolutions to understand historical precipitation and projected future precipitation. We develop three model ensembles for the historical period (1980–1999) and the mid‐century (2041–2060) that cover a range of spatial resolutions and future emissions scenarios, including: (1) 12 global model members from the fifth Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) using Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5, (2) ten regional climate model (RCM) members from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program driven by CMIP3 global models using the A2 emissions scenario, and (3) two high resolution RCM simulations (RCM4) driven by CMIP5 global models using the RCP 8.5 scenario. For the historical period, all model ensembles overestimate winter and spring precipitation, and many of the models simulate a summer drying that is not observed. At mid‐century, most of the models predict a 10–20% increase in precipitation depending on the time of year. Daily probability distribution functions from three model ensembles reveal spring seasonal increases in high precipitation event probabilities when compared to the historical period, suggesting an increase in the frequency of high intensity precipitation at mid‐century. Overall, the presence of lakes or higher spatial resolution does not ensure improved representation of historical processes, and more complex interactions between large‐scale dynamics, local feedbacks, and physical parameterizations drive the model spread.
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    International Journal of Climatology, 37(14), 4864-4879
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