- Journal Article
Observed intensification of precipitation extremes, responsible for extensive societal impacts, are widely attributed to anthropogenic sources, which may include indirect effects of agricultural irrigation. However quantifying the effects of irrigation on far-downstream climate remains a challenge. We use three paired Community Earth System Model simulations to assess mechanisms of irrigation-induced precipitation trends and extremes in the conterminous US and the effect on the terrestrial carbon sink. Results suggest precipitation enhancement in the central US reduced drought conditions and increased regional carbon uptake, while further downstream, the heaviest precipitation events were more frequent and intense. Specifically, moisture advection from irrigation in the western U.S. and recycling of enhanced local convective precipitation produced very-heavy storm events that were 11% more intense and occurred 23% more frequently in the densely populated greater New York City region.