Uncertainties in regional climate change prediction: a regional analysis of ensemble simulations with the HADCM2 coupled AOGCM
We analyze ensembles (four realizations) of historical and future climate transient experiments carried out with the coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model (AOGCM) of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, version HADCM2, with four scenarios of greenhouse gas (GHG) and sulfate forcing. The analysis focuses on the regional scale, and in particular on 21 regions covering all land areas in the World (except Antarctica). We examine seasonally averaged surface air temperature and precipitation for the historical period of 1961–1990 and the future climate period of 2046–2075. Compared to previous AOGCM simulations, the HADCM2 model shows a good performance in reproducing observed regional averages of summer and winter temperature and precipitation. The model, however, does not reproduce well observed interannual variability. We find that the uncertainty in regional climate change predictions associated with the spread of different realizations in an ensemble (i.e. the uncertainty related to the internal model variability) is relatively low for all scenarios and regions. In particular, this uncertainty is lower than the uncertainty due to inter-scenario variability and (by comparison with previous regional analyses of AOGCMs) with inter-model variability. The climate biases and sensitivities found for different realizations of the same ensemble were similar to the corresponding ensemble averages and the averages associated with individual realizations of the same ensemble did not differ from each other at the 5% confidence level in the vast majority of cases. These results indicate that a relatively small number of realizations (3 or 4) is sufficient to characterize an AOGCM transient climate change prediction at the regional scale.
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