There is a great deal of interest, in the UK and elsewhere, in quantifying and modelling the global hydrological cycle and its response to global climate change. There are still deficiencies in many climate models’ simulations of present regional precipitation patterns, and major differences among models in their simulation of the dependence of precipitation on surface properties and the regional consequences of global warming for tropical and subtropical aridity patterns. This is potentially a large topic, but it is widely felt to be one where QUEST could promote innovative data-model comparisons and potentially contribute “out of the box” ideas for future modelling and analysis. It is also an area of major significance to QUEST’s Theme 3 interest in the global vulnerability of ecosystem services to climate change, because of the central role of water in supporting biosphere processes and human activities.
The April 2008 workshop consisted of paired presentations on water-related topics by an observational expert and a modeller, respectively, on a series of topics under two main headings: fundamental processes in the hydrological cycle, and consequences of global environmental change for natural resources. The meeting developed a series of major research questions and priorities which have been communicated to the NERC theme leaders potentially to inform a new cross-cutting research programme on Water.
A recurring theme at the meeting was the need for more realistic model representations of the biosphere-atmosphere interface. This topic will be taken up at a second meeting with distinct although partly overlapping composition, to be held in early 2009.
Leaders: Colin Prentice, Julia Slingo, Ed Maltby (Liverpool)
QUEST links: Theme 1 (QESM), Theme 2 (PalaeoQUMP), Theme 3 (QUEST GSI)
Other UK links: Met Office, NCEO, CEH
International links: WCRP, Global Water System Project, Global Environmental Change and Food Systems, Global Environmental Change and Human Health