Climate Dynamics

, Volume 39, Issue 12, pp 2805–2821 | Cite as

Higher precision estimates of regional polar warming by ensemble regression of climate model projections

  • Thomas J. Bracegirdle
  • David B. Stephenson


This study presents projections of twenty-first century wintertime surface temperature changes over the high-latitude regions based on the third Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project (CMIP3) multi-model ensemble. The state-dependence of the climate change response on the present day mean state is captured using a simple yet robust ensemble linear regression model. The ensemble regression approach gives different and more precise estimated mean responses compared to the ensemble mean approach. Over the Arctic in January, ensemble regression gives less warming than the ensemble mean along the boundary between sea ice and open ocean (sea ice edge). Most notably, the results show 3 °C less warming over the Barents Sea (~7 °C compared to ~10 °C). In addition, the ensemble regression method gives projections that are 30 % more precise over the Sea of Okhostk, Bering Sea and Labrador Sea. For the Antarctic in winter (July) the ensemble regression method gives 2 °C more warming over the Southern Ocean close to the Greenwich Meridian (~7 °C compared to ~5 °C). Projection uncertainty was almost half that of the ensemble mean uncertainty over the Southern Ocean between 30° W to 90° E and 30 % less over the northern Antarctic Peninsula. The ensemble regression model avoids the need for explicit ad hoc weighting of models and exploits the whole ensemble to objectively identify overly influential outlier models. Bootstrap resampling shows that maximum precision over the Southern Ocean can be obtained with ensembles having as few as only six climate models.


CMIP3 CMIP5 Climate model Arctic Antarctic Regional climate Weighting Observational constraint Southern Ocean Sea ice edge Polar climate 



This study is part of the British Antarctic Survey Polar Science for Planet Earth Programme. It was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. Two anonymous authors are thanked for their useful comments, which helped to significantly improve the manuscript. We acknowledge the modeling groups for making their simulations available for analysis, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Inter-comparison (PCMDI) for collecting and archiving the CMIP3 model output, and the WCRP’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) for organizing the model data analysis activity. The WCRP CMIP3 multimodel data set is supported by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy. The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting are thanked for providing the ERA-40 and ERA-Interim datasets.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.British Antarctic SurveyCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Mathematics Research InstituteUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  3. 3.NCAS-ClimateReadingUK

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