Convective and stratiform precipitation characteristics in an ensemble of regional climate model simulations

Abstract

We apply a recently proposed algorithm for disaggregating observed precipitation data into predominantly convective and stratiform, and evaluate biases in characteristics of parameterized convective (subgrid) and stratiform (large-scale) precipitation in an ensemble of 11 RCM simulations for recent climate in Central Europe. All RCMs have a resolution of 25 km and are driven by the ERA-40 reanalysis. We focus on mean annual cycle, proportion of convective precipitation, dependence on altitude, and extremes. The results show that characteristics of total precipitation are often better simulated than are those of convective and stratiform precipitation evaluated separately. While annual cycles of convective and stratiform precipitation are reproduced reasonably well in most RCMs, some of them consistently and substantially overestimate or underestimate the proportion of convective precipitation throughout the year. Intensity of convective precipitation is underestimated in all RCMs. Dependence on altitude is also simulated better for stratiform and total precipitation than for convective precipitation, for which several RCMs produce unrealistic slopes. Extremes are underestimated for convective precipitation while they tend to be slightly overestimated for stratiform precipitation, thus resulting in a relatively good reproduction of extremes in total precipitation amounts. The results suggest that the examined ensemble of RCMs suffers from substantial deficiencies in reproducing precipitation processes and support previous findings that climate models’ errors in precipitation characteristics are mainly related to deficiencies in the representation of convection.

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Acknowledgments

The study was supported by the Czech Science Foundation under project 14-18675S. Z. Rulfová was supported also by the Charles University in Prague, student project GA UK No. 851713. The RCM data were obtained from the ENSEMBLES project database funded within the EU-FP6 (http://ensemblesrt3.dmi.dk/). We thank anonymous reviewers for insightful comments that helped improve the original manuscript.

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Kyselý, J., Rulfová, Z., Farda, A. et al. Convective and stratiform precipitation characteristics in an ensemble of regional climate model simulations. Clim Dyn 46, 227–243 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-015-2580-7

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Keywords

  • Regional climate models
  • Convective precipitation
  • Stratiform precipitation
  • Climatology
  • Extremes
  • Central Europe