, Volume 40, Issue 3-4, pp 805-821

Development of climate change projections for small watersheds using multi-model ensemble simulation and stochastic weather generation

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Abstract

Regional climate models (RCMs) have been increasingly used for climate change studies at the watershed scale. However, their performance is strongly dependent upon their driving conditions, internal parameterizations and domain configurations. Also, the spatial resolution of RCMs often exceeds the scales of small watersheds. This study developed a two-step downscaling method to generate climate change projections for small watersheds through combining a weighted multi-RCM ensemble and a stochastic weather generator. The ensemble was built on a set of five model performance metrics and generated regional patterns of climate change as monthly shift terms. The stochastic weather generator then incorporated these shift terms into observed climate normals and produced synthetic future weather series at the watershed scale. This method was applied to the Assiniboia area in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. The ensemble led to reduced biases in temperature and precipitation projections through properly emphasizing models with good performance. Projection of precipitation occurrence was particularly improved through introducing a weight-based probability threshold. The ensemble-derived climate change scenario was well reproduced as local daily weather series by the stochastic weather generator. The proposed combination of dynamical downscaling and statistical downscaling can improve the reliability and resolution of future climate projection for small prairie watersheds. It is also an efficient solution to produce alternative series of daily weather conditions that are important inputs for examining watershed responses to climate change and associated uncertainties.