Natural variability vs forced signal in the 2015–2019 Central American drought
Kapnick, Sarah B.
Delworth, Thomas L.
Hidalgo León, Hugo G.
Cooke, William F.
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The recent multi-year 2015–2019 drought after a multi-decadal drying trend over Central America raises the question of whether anthropogenic climate change (ACC) played a role in exacerbating these events. While the occurrence of the 2015–2019 drought in Central America has been asserted to be associated with ACC, we lack an assessment of natural vs anthropogenic contributions. Here, we use five different large ensembles—including high-resolution ensembles (i.e., 0.5◦ horizontally)—to estimate the contribution of ACC to the probability of occurrence of the 2015–2019 event and the recent multi-decadal trend. The comparison of ensembles forced with natural and natural plus anthropogenic forcing suggests that the recent 40-year trend is likely associated with internal climate variability. However, the 2015–2019 rainfall deficit has been made more likely by ACC. The synthesis of the results from model ensembles supports the notion of a significant increase, by a factor of four, over the last century for the 2015–2019 meteorological drought to occur because of ACC. All the model results further suggest that, under intermediate and high emission scenarios, the likelihood of similar drought events will continue to increase substantially over the next decades.
External link to the item10.1007/s10584-021-03228-4
- Meteorología