Climate Dynamics

, Volume 50, Issue 9–10, pp 3711–3727 | Cite as

Evaluation of cool season precipitation event characteristics over the Northeast US in a suite of downscaled climate model hindcasts

  • Paul C. LoikithEmail author
  • Duane E. Waliser
  • Jinwon Kim
  • Robert Ferraro


Cool season precipitation event characteristics are evaluated across a suite of downscaled climate models over the northeastern US. Downscaled hindcast simulations are produced by dynamically downscaling the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA2) using the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) regional climate model (RCM) and the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5) global climate model. NU-WRF RCM simulations are produced at 24, 12, and 4-km horizontal resolutions using a range of spectral nudging schemes while the MERRA2 global downscaled run is provided at 12.5-km. All model runs are evaluated using four metrics designed to capture key features of precipitation events: event frequency, event intensity, even total, and event duration. Overall, the downscaling approaches result in a reasonable representation of many of the key features of precipitation events over the region, however considerable biases exist in the magnitude of each metric. Based on this evaluation there is no clear indication that higher resolution simulations result in more realistic results in general, however many small-scale features such as orographic enhancement of precipitation are only captured at higher resolutions suggesting some added value over coarser resolution. While the differences between simulations produced using nudging and no nudging are small, there is some improvement in model fidelity when nudging is introduced, especially at a cutoff wavelength of 600 km compared to 2000 km. Based on the results of this evaluation, dynamical regional downscaling using NU-WRF results in a more realistic representation of precipitation event climatology than the global downscaling of MERRA2 using GEOS-5.


Climate model downscaling Climate model evaluation Precipitation event characteristics Northeast US Regional climate modeling 



This work was done, in part, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology and at Portland State University, under a contract from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). We thank Christa Peters-Lidard for her contributions to the NASA Downscaling Project. We also thank Bill Putnam for providing the 12-km MERRA2 data and the entire NASA Downscaling project modeling team for producing and providing the NU-WRF simulation data. Additionally we thank Huikyo Lee, Baijun Tian, Bin Guan, Bill Gutowski, and Linda Mearns for their help with this project. PRISM data was obtained from the PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University,


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  3. 3.Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and EngineeringLos AngelesUSA

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