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Environmental Research Letters






IOP Science


This study investigated the anthropogenic influence on the temporal variability of annual precipitation for the period 1950–2005 as simulated by the CMIP5 models. The temporal variability of both annual precipitation amount (PRCPTOT) and intensity (SDII) was first measured using a metric of statistical dispersion called the Gini coefficient. Comparing simulations driven by both anthropogenic and natural forcing (ALL) with simulations of natural forcing only (NAT), we quantified the anthropogenic contributions to the changes in temporal variability at global, continental and sub-continental scales as a relative difference of the respective Gini coefficients of ALL and NAT. Over the period of 1950–2005, our results indicate that anthropogenic forcing have resulted in decreased uniformity (i.e. increase in unevenness or disparity) in annual precipitation amount and intensity at global as well as continental scales. In addition, out of the 21 sub-continental regions considered, 14 (PRCPTOT) and 17 (SDII) regions showed significant anthropogenic influences. The human impacts are generally larger for SDII compared to PRCTOT, indicating that the temporal variability of precipitation intensity is generally more susceptible to anthropogenic influence than precipitation amount. The results highlight that anthropogenic activities have changed not only the trends but also the temporal variability of annual precipitation, which underscores the need to develop effective adaptation management practices to address the increased disparity.


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