Climate Dynamics

, Volume 36, Issue 1–2, pp 365–384 | Cite as

Scale-decomposed atmospheric water budget over North America as simulated by the Canadian Regional Climate Model for current and future climates

  • Raphaël Bresson
  • René Laprise


Through its various radiative effects and latent heat release, water plays a major role in the maintenance of climate. Therefore a better understanding of climate and climate changes requires a better understanding of the hydrological cycle. In this study we investigate the scale-decomposed atmospheric water budget over North America as simulated by the Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM) driven by the Canadian Coupled Global Climate Model (CGCM) under current conditions for 1961–1990 and the SRES A2 scenario for 2041–2070. A discrete cosine transform is applied to the atmospheric water budget variables in order to separate small scales that are resolved exclusively by the high-resolution CRCM, from larger scales resolved by both the CRCM and low-resolution driving CGCM. The moisture flux divergence is alternatively decomposed in terms of three scales of wind and humidity to provide nine interaction terms. Statistics of these fields are calculated for winter and summer seasons, and the local statistical significance of climate-change projections is tested. The contributions of each scale band to the water budget current climatology and to its evolution in a warmer climate are investigated, addressing the issue of the potential added value of smaller scales. Results show a time variability larger than the time mean for all variables, and a significant small-scale contribution to time variability, which is even dominant in summer, both in the current and future climates. Future climate exhibits an overall intensification of the hydrological cycle in winter, and more mixed changes in summer. Relative changes in the time mean and time variability appear comparable, and the contribution of each scale band to variability changes remains overall very consistent with their contribution to current climate variability.


Regional climate model Scale decomposition Atmospheric water budget Climate change Added value 



This research was done as part of the Masters project of the first author and as a project within the Canadian Regional Climate Modelling and Diagnostics (CRCMD) Network, funded by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) and the Ouranos Consortium for Regional Climatology and Adaptation to Climate Change. Ouranos also provided office space. We would like to thank Mr. Mourad Labassi for maintaining a user-friendly local computing facility. Thanks are also extended to the Ouranos Climate Simulation Team for their support of the CRCM software and for providing access to the climate simulations analysed here. Discussions with Dr. Soline Bielli have also been deeply appreciated. Finally, we would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers, whose suggestions contributed to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canadian Regional Climate Modelling and Diagnostics (CRCMD) Network, Centre ESCER (Étude et Simulation du Climat à l’Échelle Régionale)University of Quebec at MontrealMontrealCanada

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