Climate Dynamics

, Volume 49, Issue 7–8, pp 2665–2683 | Cite as

Projected changes in surface solar radiation in CMIP5 global climate models and in EURO-CORDEX regional climate models for Europe

  • Blanka BartókEmail author
  • Martin Wild
  • Doris Folini
  • Daniel Lüthi
  • Sven Kotlarski
  • Christoph Schär
  • Robert Vautard
  • Sonia Jerez
  • Zoltán Imecs


The objective of the present work is to compare the projections of surface solar radiation (SSR) simulated by four regional climate models (CCLM, RCA4, WRF, ALADIN) with the respective fields of their ten driving CMIP5 global climate models. First the annual and seasonal SSR changes are examined in the regional and in the global climate models based on the RCP8.5 emission scenarios. The results show significant discrepancies between the projected SSR, the multi-model mean of RCMs indicates a decrease in SSR of −0.60 W/m2 per decade over Europe, while the multi-model mean of the associated GCMs used to drive the RCMs gives an increase in SSR of +0.39 W/m2 per decade for the period of 2006–2100 over Europe. At seasonal scale the largest differences appear in spring and summer. The different signs of SSR projected changes can be interpreted as the consequence of the different behavior of cloud cover in global and regional climate models. Cloudiness shows a significant decline in GCMs with −0.24% per decade which explains the extra income in SSR, while in case of the regional models no significant changes in cloudiness can be detected. The reduction of SSR in RCMs can be attributed to increasing atmospheric absorption in line with the increase of water vapor content. Both global and regional models overestimate SSR in absolute terms as compared to surface observations, in line with an underestimation of cloud cover. Regional models further have difficulties to adequately reproduce the observed trends in SSR over the past decades.


Surface solar radiation CMIP5 global climate model EURO-CORDEX regional climate model Cloudiness Atmospheric absorption 



The first author thanks for the Scientific Exchange Programme NMS-CH, for supporting by SCIEX postdoctoral fellowship (No. 13.155-2) and for the Young Research Grant supported by Babes-Bolyai University (No. GTC-31779/2016).The study also received support from the CEA-DSM CLLIMIX project.

Supplementary material

382_2016_3471_MOESM1_ESM.docx (8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 8216 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blanka Bartók
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martin Wild
    • 2
  • Doris Folini
    • 2
  • Daniel Lüthi
    • 2
  • Sven Kotlarski
    • 3
  • Christoph Schär
    • 2
  • Robert Vautard
    • 4
  • Sonia Jerez
    • 5
  • Zoltán Imecs
    • 1
  1. 1.Hungarian Department of Geography, Faculty of GeographyBabes-Bolyai UniversityCluj-NapocaRomania
  2. 2.Institute for Atmospheric and Climate ScienceETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwissZurich-AirportSwitzerland
  4. 4.Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’EnvironnementIPSL, CEA/CNRS/UVSQGif-sur-YvetteFrance
  5. 5.Department of PhysicsUniversity of MurciaMurciaSpain

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