Summer dryness due to an increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration

S. Manabe, R. T. Wetherald, R. J. Stouffer

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160 Scopus citations


To investigate the hydrologic changes of climate in response to an increase of CO2-concentration in the atmosphere, the results from numerical experiments with three climate models are analyzed and compared with each other. All three models consist of an atmospheric general circulation model and a simple mixed layer ocean with a horizontally uniform heat capacity. The first model has a limited computational domain and simple geography with a flat land surface. The second model has a global computational domain with realistic geography. The third model is identical to the second model except that it has a higher computational resolution. In each numerical experiment, the CO2-induced change of climate is evaluated based upon a comparison between the two climates of a model with normal and four times the normal concentration of carbon dioxide in air. It is noted that the zonal mean value of soil moisture in summer reduces significantly in two separate zones of middle and high latitudes in response to the increase of the CO2-concentration in air. This CO2-induced summer dryness results not only from the earlier ending of the snowmelt season, but also from the earlier occurrence of the spring to summer reduction in rainfall rate. The former effect is particularly important in high latitudes, whereas the latter effect becomes important in middle latitudes. Other statistically significant changes include large increases in both soil moisture and runoff rate in high latitudes of a model during most of the annual cycle with the exception of the summer season. The penetration of moisture-rich, warm air into high latitudes is responsible for these increases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-386
Number of pages40
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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