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The impact of boundary forcing on RegCM4.2 surface energy budget


The surface energy budget components from two simulations of the regional climate model RegCM4.2 over the European/North African domain during the period 1989–2005 are analysed. The simulations differ in specified boundary forcings which were obtained from ERA-Interim reanalysis and the HadGEM2-ES Earth system model. Surface radiative and turbulent fluxes are compared against ERA-Interim. Errors in surface radiative fluxes are derived with respect to the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment/Surface Radiation Budget satellite-based products. In both space and time, we find a high degree of realism in the RegCM surface energy budget components, but some substantial errors and differences between the two simulations are also present. The most prominent error is an overestimation of the net surface shortwave radiation flux of more than 50 W/m2 over central and southeastern Europe during summer months. This error strongly correlates with errors in the representation of total cloud cover, and less strongly with errors in surface albedo. During other seasons, the amplitude of the surface energy budget components is more in line with reference datasets. The errors may limit the usefulness of RegCM simulations in applications (e.g. high-quality simulation-driven impact studies). However, by using a simple diagnostic model for error interpretation, we suggest potential sensitivity studies aiming to reduce the underestimation of cloud cover and overestimation of shortwave radiation flux.

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  1. FLUX NETwork,

  2. From now on, all references to SWR (LWR) are for the net surface shortwave (longwave) radiation, unless otherwise stated.

  3. Prediction of Regional scenarios and Uncertainties for Defining EuropeaN Climate change and Effects



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GEWEX/SRB data were obtained from the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Sciences Data Center and ECMWF ERA-Interim data from the ECMWF data server. We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme's Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the Met Office Hadley Centre climate modelling group for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP, the US Department of Energy's Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. This study was partly supported by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia (project no. 004-1193086-3035). We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticism, comments and suggestions that substantially improved the original manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ivan Güttler.

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This article is part of a Special Issue on “The Phase I CORDEX RegCM4 Experiment MAtrix (CREMA)” edited by Filippo Giorgi, William Gutowski and Ray W. Arritt.

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Güttler, I., Branković, Č., Srnec, L. et al. The impact of boundary forcing on RegCM4.2 surface energy budget. Climatic Change 125, 67–78 (2014).

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  • Latent Heat Flux
  • Surface Energy Budget
  • Sensible Heat Flux
  • Total Cloud Cover
  • Ground Heat Flux