Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 133, Issue 3–4, pp 1133–1141 | Cite as

CMIP5 vs. CORDEX over the Indian region: how much do we benefit from dynamical downscaling?

  • Saroj Kanta Mishra
  • Sandeep SahanyEmail author
  • Popat Salunke
Original Paper


Given the general notion that dynamical downscaling leads to added accuracy in both historical simulations as well as climate change projections, this paper investigates its validity over India using historical data (1975–2005) from the CORDEX models and their driving global climate models (GCMs) from Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), and comparing them against observed temperature and rainfall. We find that downscaling invariably leads to an improvement in the spatial pattern of surface air temperature, but compared to the driving GCMs, the errors in magnitude after downscaling are even worse in some cases. In regard to JJAS rainfall simulations, the CMIP5 driving GCMs are found to be superior to their dynamically downscaled counterparts both in terms of spatial patterns as well as magnitude of errors. Both CMIP5 driving GCMs as well as the CORDEX models underestimate rainfall during JJAS; however, negative bias in CORDEX models is worse. Unlike the driving CMIP5 GCMs, their dynamically downscaled counterparts simulate an early onset followed by a slow and late withdrawal of the Indian summer monsoon rainfall. The frequency of occurrence of rainfall intensities is simulated well by both sets of models in the lower intensity regime (0–20 mm/day); however, for higher intensities, the driving CMIP5 GCMs underestimate whereas the CORDEX models overestimate.



The authors sincerely thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions that have significantly improved the content and flow of the paper. The authors are thankful to the DST Centre of Excellence in Climate Modeling for support. The World Climate Research programme’s working group on regional climate, and the working group on coupled modeling, former coordinating body of CORDEX, and responsible panel for CMIP5 are gratefully acknowledged. The climate modeling groups are sincerely thanked for producing and making available their model output. The authors thank the Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF) infrastructure and the Climate Data Portal hosted at the Centre for Climate Change Research (CCCR), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) for providing CORDEX South Asia data. The use of the IMD and the APHRODITE datasets is thankfully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Atmospheric SciencesIIT DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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