Implications of CMIP6 Projected Drying Trends for 21st Century Amazonian Drought Risk

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Recent exceptionally hot droughts in Amazonia have highlighted the potential role of global warming in driving changes in rainfall and temperatures in the region. The previous generation of global climate models projected that eastern Amazonia would receive less future precipitation while western Amazonia would receive more precipitation, but many of these models disagreed on future precipitation trends in the region. Here Coupled Modeling Intercomparison Project, Phase 6 (CMIP6) models are used to examine the shifting risk of eastern Amazonian droughts under high and low future greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. This new generation of models shows better agreement that most of the Amazonian basin will receive less future rainfall, with particularly strong agreement that eastern and southern Amazonia will dry in the 21st century. These models suggest that global warming may be increasing the likelihood of exceptionally hot drought in the region. With unabated global warming, recent particularly warm and severe droughts will become more common by midcentury, but reducing the rate of greenhouse gas emissions can make extremely hot and dry years less common in the future. Simulated future rainfall changes in Amazonia under high greenhouse gas emissions are associated with changes in the tropical Pacific, but many climate models struggle to reproduce observed trends in the tropical Pacific. These shortcomings highlight the need to improve confidence in global climate models' ability to simulate observed trends in the tropics, even if more CMIP6 models agree on the sign of future rainfall trends.





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Parsons, LA (2020). Implications of CMIP6 Projected Drying Trends for 21st Century Amazonian Drought Risk. Earth's Future, 8(10). 10.1029/2020EF001608 Retrieved from

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Luke Parsons


Luke Parsons is a climate researcher and lecturer. He teaches about climate change and climate impacts and studies climate dynamics, drought, and climate change + deforestation + emissions impacts on the environment, human health, well-being, and the economy. In addition to his work as a researcher, Luke is also a Wilderness First Responder and former NOLS instructor who enjoys backpacking, climbing, and taking panoramic landscape photographs.

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