Climate Dynamics

, Volume 30, Issue 2–3, pp 113–132 | Cite as

Evaluation of uncertainties in the CRCM-simulated North American climate

  • Ramón de ElíaEmail author
  • Daniel Caya
  • Hélène Côté
  • Anne Frigon
  • Sébastien Biner
  • Michel Giguère
  • Dominique Paquin
  • Richard Harvey
  • David Plummer


This work is a first step in the analysis of uncertainty sources in the RCM-simulated climate over North America. Three main sets of sensitivity studies were carried out: the first estimates the magnitude of internal variability, which is needed to evaluate the significance of changes in the simulated climate induced by any model modification. The second is devoted to the role of CRCM configuration as a source of uncertainty, in particular the sensitivity to nesting technique, domain size, and driving reanalysis. The third study aims to assess the relative importance of the previously estimated sensitivities by performing two additional sensitivity experiments: one, in which the reanalysis driving data is replaced by data generated by the second generation Coupled Global Climate Model (CGCM2), and another, in which a different CRCM version is used. Results show that the internal variability, triggered by differences in initial conditions, is much smaller than the sensitivity to any other source. Results also show that levels of uncertainty originating from liberty of choices in the definition of configuration parameters are comparable among themselves and are smaller than those due to the choice of CGCM or CRCM version used. These results suggest that uncertainty originated by the CRCM configuration latitude (freedom of choice among domain sizes, nesting techniques and reanalysis dataset), although important, does not seem to be a major obstacle to climate downscaling. Finally, with the aim of evaluating the combined effect of the different uncertainties, the ensemble spread is estimated for a subset of the analysed simulations. Results show that downscaled surface temperature is in general more uncertain in the northern regions, while precipitation is more uncertain in the central and eastern US.


Domain Size Internal Variability NCEP Reanalysis Ensemble Spread Couple General Circulation Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors want to thank Claude Desrochers and Mourad Labassi for maintaining a user-friendly local computing environment at the Ouranos Consortium. We also would like to thank Dorothée Charpentier and Jillian Tomm for their help in the final formatting and editing of the manuscript. We would like to express our gratitude to the ECMWF, whose ERA40 data used in this study were obtained from the ECMWF data server. The collaboration of the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma) in Victoria, BC is warmly acknowledged; without access to CCCma’s software, this project would not have been possible. René Laprise and Francis Zwiers have generously devoted time to the discussion of some sections of this manuscript. In addition, we would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers, whose suggestions contributed to improve the manuscript. This research was financially supported by the Ouranos Consortium.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ramón de Elía
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Caya
    • 1
  • Hélène Côté
    • 1
  • Anne Frigon
    • 1
  • Sébastien Biner
    • 1
  • Michel Giguère
    • 1
  • Dominique Paquin
    • 1
  • Richard Harvey
    • 2
  • David Plummer
    • 2
  1. 1.Climate Simulations TeamConsortium OuranosMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and AnalysisMeteorological Service of CanadaVictoriaCanada

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