Skip to main content

Evaluation of the performance of bias-corrected CORDEX regional climate models in reproducing Baro–Akobo basin climate


The applicability of the regional climate model (RCMs) for catchment hydroclimate is obscured due to their systematic bias. As a result, bias correction has become an essential precondition for the study of climate change. This study aimed to evaluate the skill of seven rainfall and five maximum and minimum temperature RCM outputs against observed data in simulating the characteristics of climate at several locations over the Baro–Akobo basin in Ethiopia. The evaluation was performed based on raw and bias-corrected RCMs against observed for a long-term basis. Several statistical metrics were used to compare RCMs against observed using a pixel-to-point approach. In this finding, raw RCMs showed pronounced biases such as lower correlation and higher PBIAS in estimating rainfall and minimum temperature than maximum temperature. However, most RCMs after bias correction showed better performance in reproducing the magnitude and distribution of the mean monthly rainfall and temperature and improve all the statistical metrics. The Mann–Kendall trend test for observed and bias-corrected RCMs indicated a decreasing annual rainfall trend while the maximum and minimum temperature showed an increasing trend in most stations. In most statistical metrics, the ensemble mean resulted in better agreement with observation than individual models in most stations. In general, after bias correction, the ensemble adequately simulates the Baro–Akobo basin climate and can be used for evaluation of future climate projections in the region.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11


  • Alley, RB and Coauthors (2007) Summary for policymakers. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, S. Solomon et al., Eds., Cambridge University Press, 1–18.

  • Baldauf M, Seifert A, Förstner J, Majewski D, Raschendorfer M, Reinhardt T (2011) Operational convective-scale numerical weather prediction with the COSMO model: description and sensitivities. Mon Wea Rev. 139:3887–3905.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bhattacharya T, Khare D (2020) Arora M (2020) Evaluation of reanalysis and global meteorological products in Beas river basin of North-Western Himalaya. Environ Syst Res. 9(1):1–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bhowmik AK, Costa AC (2015) Representativeness impacts on accuracy and precision of climate spatial interpolation in data-scarce regions. Meteorol Appl. 22(3):368–377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Buuren S, Groothuis-Oudshoorn K, Robitzsch A, Vink G, Doove L, Jolani S (2015) Package ‘mice’ version 2.25; title multivariate imputation by chained equations

  • Cheung WH, Senay B, Singh A (2008) Trends and spatial distribution of annual and seasonal rainfall in. Ethiopia 1734(March):1723–1734.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Christensen JH, Boberg F, Christensen OB, Lucas-Picher P (2008) On the need for bias correction of regional climate change projections of temperature and rainfall. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35(20):L20709.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Christy JR, Norris WB, McNider RT (2009) Surface temperature variations in east Africa and possible causes. J. Climate 22:3342–3356

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davies RAG, Midgley SJE, Chesterman S (2010) Climate risk and vulnerability mapping for Southern Africa: status quo (2008) and future (2050). In: ONEWORLD (ed) Regional Climate Change Programme: Southern Africa. Cape Town, South Africa

  • Dile YT, Berndtsson R, Setegn SG (2013) Hydrological response to climate change for Gilgel Abay River, in the Lake Tana Basin – upper Blue Nile Basin of Ethiopia. PLoS One 8:12–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diro GT, Toniazzo T, Shaffrey L (2011) Ethiopian rainfall in climate models. Adv Global Change Res. 43:51–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Endris HS, Omondi P, Jain S, Lennard C, Hewitson B, Chang'a L, Awange JL, Dosio A, Ketiem P, Nikulin G, Panitz HJ, Büchner M, Stordal F, Tazalika L (2013) Assessment of the performance of CORDEX regional climate models in simulating East African rainfall. J. Clim 26:8453–8475

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fang GH, Yang J, Chen YN, Zammit C. (2015) Comparing bias correction methods in downscaling meteorological variables for a hydrologic impact study in an arid area in China, 2547–2559.

  • Fentaw F, Hailu D, Nigussie A, Melesse AM (2018) Climate change impact on the hydrology of Tekeze Basin, Ethiopia: projection of rainfall-runoff for future water resources planning. Publ Online 2018:267–278

    Google Scholar 

  • Giorgi, F, Jones, C, Asrar G (2009) Addressing climate information needs at the regional level: the CORDEX framework

  • Haile AT, Rientjes T (2015) Evaluation of regional climate model simulations of rainfall over the upper Blue Nile basin. Atmos Res 161-162:57–64.

  • Hamed KH, Rao AR (1998) A modified Mann-Kendall trend test for autocorrelated data. J Hydrol 204:182–196

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • IPCC (2001) Climate Change (2001): the scientific basis. In: Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, van der Linden PJ, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CA (eds) Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 881 pp

    Google Scholar 

  • IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1000 pp

  • IPCC (2012) Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. In: Field CB, Barros V, Stocker TF, Qin D, Dokken DJ, Ebi KL, Mastrandrea MD, Mach KJ, Plattner G-K, Allen SK, Tignor M, Midgley PM (eds) A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 582 pp

    Google Scholar 

  • IPCC (2014) In: Core Writing Team, Pachauri RK, Meyer LA (eds) Climate Change 2014: synthesis report. contribution of working groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland

  • Jackob D, Bärring L, Christensen OB, Christensen JH, de Castro M, Déqué M, Giorgi F, Hagemann S, Hirschi M, Jones R, Kjellström E, Lenderink G, Rockel B, Sánchez E, Schär C, Seneviratne SI, Somot S, van Ulden A, van den Hurk B (2012) An inter-comparison of regional climate models for Europe: model performance in present-day climate. Clim. Change 81:31–52.

  • Kim U, Kaluarachchi JJ, Smakhtin VU (2008) Climate change impacts on hydrology and water resources of the Upper Blue Nile River Basin, Ethiopia. International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Research Report 126, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 27p

  • Kim J, Waliser DE, Mattmann CA, Goodale CE, Hart AF, Zimdars PA, Crichton DJ, Jones C, Nikulin G, Hewitson B, Jack C, Lennard C, Favre A (2014) Evaluation of the CORDEX-Africa multi-RCM hindcast: systematic model errors. Clim Dyn 42:1189–1202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kumar S, Merwade V, Kam J, Thurner K (2009) Streamflow trends in Indiana: effects of long term persistence, rainfall and subsurface drains. J Hydrol 374:171–183

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McCartney M, Alemayehu T, Shiferaw A, Awulachew SB (2010) Evaluation of current and future water resources development in the Lake Tana Basin, Ethiopia. International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka (39 pp. IWMI Research Report 134)

  • Nikulin G, Jones C, Giorgi F, Asrar G, Büchner M, Cerezo-Mota R, Christensen OB, Déqué M, Fernandez J, Hänsler A, van Meijgaard E, Samuelsson P, Sylla MB, Sushama L (2012) Precipitation climatology in an ensemble of CORDEX-Africa regional climate simulations. J Clim 25:6057–6078.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • NMA (1996) Climate and agro-climatic resources of Ethiopia. NMA (National Meteorological Agency) Meteorological Research Report Series, Vol. 1, No.1, Addis Ababa

  • Osborn TJ, Hulme M (1997) Development of a relationship between station and grid-box rainday frequencies for climate model evaluation. J Clim. 10(8):1885–1908.<1885:DOARBS>2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rathjens H, Bieger K, Srinivasan R, Arnold JG (2016) CMhyd User manual: documentation for preparing simulated climate change data for hydrologic impact studies

  • Rockel B, Will A, Hense A (2008) The regional climate model COSMOCLM (CCLM4). Meteorol Z 17(4):347–348.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Samuelsson P, Gollvik S, Jansson C et al (2015) The surface processes of the Rossby Centre Regional Atmospheric Climate Model (RCA4). Norrköping, Sweden

    Google Scholar 

  • Tabari H, Taye MT, Willems P (2015) Statistical assessment of rainfall trends in the upper Blue Nile River basin. Stoch Environ Res Risk Assess 29(7):1751–1761.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tekleab S, Mohamed Y, Uhlenbrook S (2013) Hydro-climatic trends in the Abay/Upper Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. Hydrology, land-use and climate in the Nile Basin: recent modeling experiences. Phys Chem Earth Parts A/B/C 61–62:32–42

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Teutschbein C, Seibert J (2010) Regional climate models for hydrological impact studies at the catchment scale: a review of recent modeling strategies. Geogr Compass 4(7):834–860.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Teutschbein C, Seibert J (2012) Bias correction of regional climate model simulations for hydrological climate-change impact studies: review and evaluation of different methods. J Hydrol 456–457:12–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Themeßl MJ, Gobiet A, Heinrich G (2012) Empirical-statistical downscaling and error correction of regional climate models and its impact on the climate change signal. Clim Chang 112:449–468.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turrado C, López M, Lasheras F, Gómez B, Rollé J, Juez F (2014) Missing data imputation of solar radiation data under different atmospheric conditions. Sensors 14:20382–20399.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • von Storch H (1999) Analysis of climate variability—applications of statistical techniques. Springer-Verlag, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Woldesenbetm TA, Heinrich J, Diekkrüger J (2016) Assessing impacts of land use/cover and climate changes on hydrological regime in the headwater region of the upper Blue Nile River basin, Ethiopia

  • Worku G, Teferi E, Bantider A, Dile Y (2020) Statistical bias correction of regional climate model simulations for climate change projection in the Jemma sub-basin, upper Blue Nile Basin of Ethiopia.

  • Yue S, Pilon P, Phinney R, Cavadias G (2002) The influence of autocorrelation on the ability to detect trend in hydrological series. Hydrol Process 16:1807–1829

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang S, Lu XX (2009) Hydrological responses to rainfall variation and diverse human activities in a mountainous tributary of the lower Xijiang, China. Catena 77:130–142

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang X, Yang F (2004) RClimDex (1.0): user manual 1–23. Climate Research Branch Environment CanadaDownsview, Ontario Canada

Download references


The authors of this study are very thankful to the Ethiopian National Meteorological Agency for providing observed climate data. The climate model data are downloaded from, so we are thankful to the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), for providing the data sets of the Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX).


This work is financially supported by the first author from Addis Ababa University and Mizan–Tepi University.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Abiy Getachew Mengistu: conceptualization; methodology; software; data collection and analysis and writing the manuscript

Tekalegn Ayele Woldesenbet: conceptualization, supervision; writing—review and editing of the manuscript

Yihun Dile Taddele: conceptualization, supervision; writing—review and editing of the manuscript

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Abiy Getachew Mengistu.

Ethics declarations

Competing interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information


(PDF 124 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mengistu, A.G., Woldesenbet, T.A. & Dile, Y.T. Evaluation of the performance of bias-corrected CORDEX regional climate models in reproducing Baro–Akobo basin climate. Theor Appl Climatol 144, 751–767 (2021).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: