, Volume 40, Issue 5-6, pp 1271-1290
Date: 17 May 2012

Assessing uncertainties in the building of ensemble RCMs over Spain based on dry spell lengths probability density functions

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Abstract

Spain is one of the European countries with most environmental problems related to water scarcity and droughts. Additionally, several studies suggest trends of increasing temperature and decreasing rainfall, mainly for the Iberian Peninsula, due to climate variability and change. While Regional Climate Models (RCM) are a valuable tool for understanding climate processes, the causes and plausible impacts on variables and meteorological extremes present a wide range of associated uncertainties. The multi-model ensemble approach allows the quantification and reduction of uncertainties in the predictions. The combination of models (RCM in this case), generally increases the reliability of the predictions, although there are different weighting methodologies. In this paper, a strategy is presented for the building of non-stationary PDF (probability density functions) ensembles with the aim of evaluating the spatial pattern of future risk of drought for an area. At the same time, the uncertainty associated with the metric used in the construction of the PDF ensembles is assessed. A comparative study of methodologies based on the application of the Reliability Ensemble Averaging (REA), assessing its factors using two performance measures, on the one hand the Perkins Score Methods, on the other hand the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, is proposed. The evaluation of the sensitivity of the methodologies used in the construction of ensembles, as proposed in this paper, although without completely eliminating uncertainty, allows a better understanding of the sources and magnitude of the uncertainties involved. Despite the differences between the spatial distribution results from each metric (which can be in the order of 40 % in some areas), both approaches concluded about a plausible significant and widespread increase throughout continental Spain of the mean value of annual maximum dry spell lengths (AMDSL) between the years 1990 and 2050. Finally, the more parsimonious approach in the building of ensembles PDF, based on AMDSL in peninsular Spain, is identified.