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Evolution of future precipitation extremes: Viewpoint of climate change classification

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Climate change is often described as the average changes in temperature and precipitation; however, it is the change in climate extremes determines the levels of socioeconomic impacts related to climate change. It is generally believed that global warming drives increase in frequency, intensity and duration of precipitation extremes, but these changes vary regionally. Focusing on the relationships between evolution of extreme events and long-term climate change, here we propose a novel classification scheme based on Kӧppen's system and changes in mean and variability of precipitation, divide the global climate into 20 different changing types and reveal the regional evolution of precipitation extremes. We find that precipitation extremes ascend significantly in wetting regions, especially in tropical and temperate zones, independent with changed variability. As for drying regions, the evolution of extremes is related to precipitation variability. An increase of extremes can still be detected in fluctuant-drying areas, while a slight decrease can be seen in stabilized-drying areas. It is surprising to find increase in both wetness and dryness extremes which implies higher intensity of meteorological hazards in densely populated areas. Based on the current and projected growth of population exposure to precipitation extremes, we identify some hotspots with high potential risk in the future.

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