IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis

Precipitation Extremes and Droughts

Intensity of precipitation events is projected to increase, particularly in tropical and high latitude areas that experience increases in mean precipitation. Even in areas where mean precipitation decreases (most subtropical and mid-latitude regions), precipitation intensity is projected to increase but there would be longer periods between rainfall events. There is a tendency for drying of the mid-continental areas during summer, indicating a greater risk of droughts in those regions. Precipitation extremes increase more than does the mean in most tropical and mid- and high-latitude areas.

Snow and Ice

As the climate warms, snow cover and sea ice extent decrease; glaciers and ice caps lose mass owing to a dominance of summer melting over winter precipitation increases. This contributes to sea level rise as documented for the previous generation of models in the TAR. There is a projected reduction of sea ice in the 21st century in both the Arctic and Antarctic with a rather large range of model responses. The projected reduction is accelerated in the Arctic, where some models project summer sea ice cover to disappear entirely in the high-emission A2 scenario in the latter part of the 21st century. Widespread increases in thaw depth over much of the permafrost regions are projected to occur in response to warming over the next century.