Understanding how precipitation extremes scale in future climates

While global climate models (GCMs) remain our best tool for investigating the Earth’s system response to anthropogenic forcings, their spatial resolution (generally hundreds of km) is much coarser than the scales of the key processes leading to precipitation extremes (e.g. intense convective rainfall events). Therefore, parametrizations are necessary and the simulation of precipitation is not explicitly resolved in models. Spatial resolution is finer in regional climate models (RCMs) (generally tens of km), which is expected to improve the simulation of precipitation extremes that are very sensitive to spatial contrasts and topography. However, even at the scales of regional models parametrizations are still required.

Global and regional models have advantages and disadvantages for studying precipitation extremes, but how their output scales with respect to the other is rarely compared. In particular, it is unclear how the future changes in precipitation extremes from large ensembles of regional climate models compare to those from global models. This project will assess how precipitation projections for Australia from global and regional models scale using the latest start-of-the-art GCMs and RCMs.

Requirements: Some prior programming and data visualisation experience (e.g. Python, NCL, MATLAB, R, etc.).

This project is supervised by A/Prof Lisa Alexander and Dr Margot Bador (UNSW Sydney). Please contact l.alexander@unsw.edu.au for more information.

 

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Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick

I’m a climate scientist interested in extreme events. In my research, I study how to better understand the anthropogenic signal behind heatwaves and their impacts. Heatwaves have become my passion – they are such complex events that have such high impacts.

My work on heatwaves has seen me recognised both nationally and internationally. I was short listed as a member of “team extreme” in the 2014 Eureka Prizes, I received a 2013 NSW Young Tall Poppy Award, I’ve worked closely with Australia’s Climate Council, and I have ongoing collaborations with international colleagues who are leaders in my field. I co-ordinated the first interdisciplinary Australian heatwave workshop in 2014, with the second following in 2015.

I developed Scorcher, where members of the general public can track heatwaves at many different sites across Australia. I also take on an active communication role on all things heatwaves, extremes and climate change. I strongly believe in climate science communication – who better else is there to convey the facts, than the experts themselves?

Links:

Personal website
UNSW Climate Change Research Center
Articles on The Conversation
Scorcher

Follow me on Twitter @sarahinscience