Climatic Change

, Volume 81, Supplement 1, pp 31-52

First online:

An inter-comparison of regional climate models for Europe: model performance in present-day climate

  • Daniela JacobAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Meteorology Email author 
  • , Lars BärringAffiliated withRossby Centre, SMHI
  • , Ole Bøssing ChristensenAffiliated withDanish Meteorological Institute
  • , Jens Hesselbjerg ChristensenAffiliated withDanish Meteorological Institute
  • , Manuel de CastroAffiliated withFacultad de Ciencias del Medio Ambiente, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
  • , Michel DéquéAffiliated withMétéo-France CNRM
  • , Filippo GiorgiAffiliated withThe Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics
  • , Stefan HagemannAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Meteorology
  • , Martin HirschiAffiliated withInstitut for Atmospheric and Climate Science ETH
    • , Richard JonesAffiliated withMet Office Hadley Centre (Reading Unit), Meteorology Building, University of Reading
    • , Erik KjellströmAffiliated withRossby Centre, SMHI
    • , Geert LenderinkAffiliated withRoyal Netherlands Meteorological Institute
    • , Burkhardt RockelAffiliated withGKSS Forschungszentrum Geesthacht
    • , Enrique SánchezAffiliated withFacultad de Ciencias del Medio Ambiente, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
    • , Christoph SchärAffiliated withInstitut for Atmospheric and Climate Science ETH
    • , Sonia I. SeneviratneAffiliated withGlobal Modeling and Assimilation Office NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center
    • , Samuel SomotAffiliated withMétéo-France CNRM
    • , Aad van UldenAffiliated withRoyal Netherlands Meteorological Institute
    • , Bart van den HurkAffiliated withRoyal Netherlands Meteorological Institute

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The analysis of possible regional climate changes over Europe as simulated by 10 regional climate models within the context of PRUDENCE requires a careful investigation of possible systematic biases in the models. The purpose of this paper is to identify how the main model systematic biases vary across the different models. Two fundamental aspects of model validation are addressed here: the ability to simulate (1) the long-term (30 or 40 years) mean climate and (2) the inter-annual variability. The analysis concentrates on near-surface air temperature and precipitation over land and focuses mainly on winter and summer. In general, there is a warm bias with respect to the CRU data set in these extreme seasons and a tendency to cold biases in the transition seasons. In winter the typical spread (standard deviation) between the models is 1 K. During summer there is generally a better agreement between observed and simulated values of inter-annual variability although there is a relatively clear signal that the modeled temperature variability is larger than suggested by observations, while precipitation variability is closer to observations. The areas with warm (cold) bias in winter generally exhibit wet (dry) biases, whereas the relationship is the reverse during summer (though much less clear, coupling warm (cold) biases with dry (wet) ones). When comparing the RCMs with their driving GCM, they generally reproduce the large-scale circulation of the GCM though in some cases there are substantial differences between regional biases in surface temperature and precipitation.