The role of the simulation setup in a long-term high-resolution climate change projection for the southern African region
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- Haensler, A., Hagemann, S. & Jacob, D. Theor Appl Climatol (2011) 106: 153. doi:10.1007/s00704-011-0420-1
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High-resolution regional climate change simulations have proven to offer an added value compared to available global climate model simulations. However, over many regions of the globe, long-term high-resolution climate change projections are rather sparse. We present a transient high-resolution climate change projection with the regional climate model with the regional climate model REMO over the southern African region, following the SRES A1B emission scenario. The simulation was conducted at 18 km grid spacing for the period from 1960 to 2100, making it to the longest available climate change projection at such a high resolution for the region. In the first part of the study, we focus on the impact of the model setup on the simulated rainfall over the southern African region. In the standard setup, we used the output of the global climate model ECHAM5/MPIOM directly to force REMO. This setup led to a very strong wet bias over the region. Changing it to the double-nesting setup significantly reduced this bias, but a substantial wet bias still persists. The remaining bias could partly be attributed to a warm bias in the SST forcing over the southern Atlantic Ocean. Thus, we applied an SST correction based on the anomaly approach to the data, which led to a further improvement of the rainfall simulation. As the SST bias in the southern Atlantic is a common feature of all global climate models assessed by the IPCC, we recommend the chosen model setup, including the SST correction, as general procedure for dynamical downscaling studies over the southern African region. In the second part, we present the projected spatial and temporal changes of temperature and precipitation, including several rainfall characteristics, over the southern African region. Herby we compare the projections of the high-resolution REMO simulation to those of the forcing regional and global models. We generally find that for temperature the magnitude of the projected changes of the regional model only slightly differs from the GCM projection; however, the spatial patterns are much better resolved in the RCM projections. For precipitation, REMO shows a more intense drying toward the end of the twenty-first century than it is simulated by the global model. This can have a major influence when investigating the impacts of future climate change on a regional or even local scale. In combination with the improved spatial patterns, the application of high-resolution climate change information could therefore improve the results of such applications.