Potential for small scale added value of RCM’s downscaled climate change signal

Di Luca, Alejandro; de Elía, Ramón et Laprise, René (2013). « Potential for small scale added value of RCM’s downscaled climate change signal ». Climate Dynamics, 40(3-4), pp. 601-618.

Fichier(s) associé(s) à ce document :
Télécharger (2MB)


In recent decades, the need of future climate information at local scales have pushed the climate modelling community to perform increasingly higher resolution simulations and to develop alternative approaches to obtain fine-scale climatic information. In this article, various nested regional climate model (RCM) simulations have been used to try to identify regions across North America where high-resolution downscaling generates fine-scale details in the climate projection derived using the “delta method”. Two necessary conditions were identified for an RCM to produce added value (AV) over lower resolution atmosphere-ocean general circulation models in the fine-scale component of the climate change (CC) signal. First, the RCM-derived CC signal must contain some non-negligible fine-scale information—independently of the RCM ability to produce AV in the present climate. Second, the uncertainty related with the estimation of this fine-scale information should be relatively small compared with the information itself in order to suggest that RCMs are able to simulate robust fine-scale features in the CC signal. Clearly, considering necessary (but not sufficient) conditions means that we are studying the “potential” of RCMs to add value instead of the AV, which preempts and avoids any discussion of the actual skill and hence the need for hindcast comparisons. The analysis concentrates on the CC signal obtained from the seasonal-averaged temperature and precipitation fields and shows that the fine-scale variability of the CC signal is generally small compared to its large-scale component, suggesting that little AV can be expected for the time-averaged fields. For the temperature variable, the largest potential for fine-scale added value appears in coastal regions mainly related with differential warming in land and oceanic surfaces. Fine-scale features can account for nearly 60 % of the total CC signal in some coastal regions although for most regions the fine scale contributions to the total CC signal are of around ∼5 %. For the precipitation variable, fine scales contribute to a change of generally less than 15 % of the seasonal-averaged precipitation in present climate with a continental North American average of ∼5 % in both summer and winter seasons. In the case of precipitation, uncertainty due to sampling issues may further dilute the information present in the downscaled fine scales. These results suggest that users of RCM simulations for climate change studies in a delta method framework have little high-resolution information to gain from RCMs at least if they limit themselves to the study of first-order statistical moments. Other possible benefits arising from the use of RCMs—such as in the large scale of the downscaled fields– were not explored in this research.

Type: Article de revue scientifique
Mots-clés ou Sujets: Regional climate model, Temperature, Precipitations, Potential added value climate change signal
Unité d'appartenance: Centres institutionnels > Centre pour l'étude et la simulation du climat à l'échelle régionale (ESCER)
Faculté des sciences > Département des sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère
Déposé par: René Laprise
Date de dépôt: 01 avr. 2016 18:16
Dernière modification: 19 avr. 2016 18:16
Adresse URL : http://archipel.uqam.ca/id/eprint/8062


Voir les statistiques sur cinq ans...