Climate Dynamics

, Volume 41, Issue 5–6, pp 1475–1495 | Cite as

Does increasing the spatial resolution of a regional climate model improve the simulated daily precipitation?

  • Steven C. Chan
  • Elizabeth J. Kendon
  • Hayley J. Fowler
  • Stephen Blenkinsop
  • Christopher A. T. Ferro
  • David B. Stephenson


Three different resolution (50, 12, and 1.5 km) regional climate model simulations are compared in terms of their ability to simulate moderate and high daily precipitation events over the southern United Kingdom. The convection-permitting 1.5-km simulation is carried out without convective parametrisation. As in previous studies, increasing resolution (especially from 50 to 12 km) is found to improve the representation of orographic precipitation. The 50-km simulation underestimates mean precipitation over the mountainous region of Wales, and event intensity tends to be too weak; this bias is reduced in both the 12- and 1.5-km simulations for both summer and winter. In south–east England lowlands where summer extremes are mostly convective, increasing resolution does not necessary lead to an improvement in the simulation. For the 12-km simulation, simulated daily extreme events are overly intense. Even though the average intensity of summer daily extremes is improved in the 1.5-km simulation, this simulation has a poorer mean bias with too many events exceeding high thresholds. Spatial density and clustering of summer extremes in south–east England are poorly simulated in both the 12- and 1.5-km simulations. In general, we have not found any clear evidence to show that the 1.5-km simulation is superior to the 12-km simulation, or vice versa at the daily level.


High resolution models Dynamical downscaling Hydroclimate Precipitation 



This research is part of the CONVEX project—a collaboration between Newcastle University, the Met Office, and the University of Exeter. CONVEX is supported by the United Kingdom NERC Changing Water Cycle programme (grant NE/I006680/1), and the presented model simulations are supported by the Met Office. The lead author is financially supported by Newcastle University, and is a visiting scientist at the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter, United Kingdom.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven C. Chan
    • 1
  • Elizabeth J. Kendon
    • 2
  • Hayley J. Fowler
    • 1
  • Stephen Blenkinsop
    • 1
  • Christopher A. T. Ferro
    • 3
  • David B. Stephenson
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Civil Engineering and GeosciencesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.Met Office Hadley CentreExeterUK
  3. 3.College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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