Hydrologic cycle weakening in hothouse climates

Published in Science Advances, 2024

Recommended citation: Liu, Jiachen, Jun Yang, Feng Ding, Gang Chen and Yongyun Hu, 2024: Hydrologic cycle weakening in hothouse climates, Science Advances, 10, doi:10.1126/sciadv.ado2515.

The hydrologic cycle has wide impacts on the ocean salinity and circulation, carbon and nitrogen cycles, and the ecosystem. Under anthropogenic global warming, previous studies showed that the intensification of the hydrologic cycle is a robust feature. Whether this trend persists in hothouse climates, however, is unknown. Here, we show in climate models that mean precipitation first increases with rising surface temperature, but the precipitation trend reverses when the surface is hotter than {~{}}320 to 330 kelvin. This nonmonotonic phenomenon is robust to the cause of warming, convection scheme, ocean dynamics, atmospheric mass, planetary rotation, gravity, and stellar spectrum. The weakening occurs because of the existence of an upper limitation of outgoing longwave emission and the continuously increasing shortwave absorption by H 2 O and is consistent with atmospheric dynamics featuring the strong increase of atmospheric stratification and marked reduction of convective mass flux. These results have wide implications for the climate evolutions of Earth, Venus, and potentially habitable exoplanets.

Download paper: journal website