Thermodynamic scaling of the hydrological cycle of the last glacial maximum


In climate models subject to greenhouse gas–induced warming, vertically integrated water vapor increases at nearly the same rate as its saturation value. Previous studies showed that this increase dominates circulation changes in climate models, so that precipitation minus evaporation (P − E) decreases in the subtropics and increases in the tropics and high latitudes at a rate consistent with a Clausius–Clapeyron scaling. This study examines whether the same thermodynamic scaling describes differences in the hydrological cycle between modern times and the last glacial maximum (LGM), as simulated by a suite of coupled ocean–atmosphere models. In these models, changes in water vapor between modern and LGM climates do scale with temperature according to Clausius–Clapeyron, but this thermodynamic scaling provides a poorer description of the changes in P − E. While the scaling is qualitatively consistent with simulations in the zonal mean, predicting higher P − E in the subtropics and lower P − E in th…

J. Clim.