Climate Dynamics

, Volume 41, Issue 3–4, pp 803–817 | Cite as

How well do CMIP5 Earth System Models simulate present climate conditions in Europe and Africa?

A performance comparison for the downscaling community
  • S. Brands
  • S. Herrera
  • J. Fernández
  • J. M. Gutiérrez


The present study assesses the ability of seven Earth System Models (ESMs) from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 to reproduce present climate conditions in Europe and Africa. This is done from a downscaling perspective, taking into account the requirements of both statistical and dynamical approaches. ECMWF’s ERA-Interim reanalysis is used as reference for an evaluation of circulation, temperature and humidity variables on daily timescale, which is based on distributional similarity scores. To additionally obtain an estimate of reanalysis uncertainty, ERA-Interim’s deviation from the Japanese Meteorological Agency JRA-25 reanalysis is calculated. Areas with considerable differences between both reanalyses do not allow for a proper assessment, since ESM performance is sensitive to the choice of reanalysis. For use in statistical downscaling studies, ESM performance is computed on the grid-box scale and mapped over a large spatial domain covering Europe and Africa, additionally highlighting those regions where significant distributional differences remain even for the centered/zero-mean time series. For use in dynamical downscaling studies, performance is specifically assessed along the lateral boundaries of the three CORDEX domains defined for Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and Africa.


CMIP5 Earth System Models Performance Present climate Downscaling Africa Europe 



S.B. would like to thank the CSIC JAE-PREDOC programme for financial support. J.F. and J.M.G. acknowledge financial support from the Spanish R&D&I programme through grants CGL2010-22158-C02 (CORWES project) and CGL2010- 21869 (EXTREMBLES project) and from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement 243888 (FUME Project). All authors acknowledge and appreciate the free availability of the ERA-Interim and JRA-25 reanalysis datasets, as well as the GCM datasets provided by the ESGF web portals. They also are thankful to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the former version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Brands
    • 1
  • S. Herrera
    • 2
  • J. Fernández
    • 3
  • J. M. Gutiérrez
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Física de Cantabria (UC-CSIC)SantanderSpain
  2. 2.Predictia Intelligent Data SolutionsSantanderSpain
  3. 3.Dept. of Applied Mathematics and Comp. Sci.Universidad de CantabriaSantanderSpain

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