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Consistency of simulated and observed regional changes in temperature, sea level pressure and precipitation

Abstract

There is increasing pressure from stakeholders for highly localised climate change projections. A comprehensive assessment of climate model performance at the grid box scale in simulating recent change, however, is not available at present. Therefore, we compare observed changes in near-surface temperature, sea level pressure (SLP) and precipitation with simulations available from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Projects 3 and 5 (CMIP3 and CMIP5). In both multi-model datasets we find coherent areas of inconsistency between observed and simulated local trends per degree global warming in both temperature and SLP in the majority of models. Localised projections should thus take into account the possibility of regional biases shared across models. In contrast, simulated changes in precipitation are not significantly different from observations due to low signal-to-noise ratio of local precipitation changes. Therefore, recent regional rainfall change is likely not providing useful constraints for future projections as of yet. Comparing the two most recent sets of internationally coordinated climate model experiments, we find no indication of improvement in the models’ ability to reproduce local trends in temperature, SLP and precipitation.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modelling groups for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP the U.S. Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals.

Support for the Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project dataset is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (DOE INCITE) program, and Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Program Office.

We thank David Kent and Tim Erwin for software to facilitate the analysis of large multi-model datasets, and we thank Janice Bathols for help with downloading the CMIP5 data.

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Bhend, J., Whetton, P. Consistency of simulated and observed regional changes in temperature, sea level pressure and precipitation. Climatic Change 118, 799–810 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-012-0691-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-012-0691-2

Keywords

  • CMIP5 Model
  • Global Precipitation Climatology Centre
  • World Climate Research Programme
  • Anthropogenic Forcings
  • CMIP5 Ensemble