Regional climate change projections for the Northeast USA


Climate projections at relevant temporal and spatial scales are essential to assess potential future climate change impacts on climatologically diverse regions such as the northeast United States. Here, we show how both statistical and dynamical downscaling methods applied to relatively coarse-scale atmosphere-ocean general circulation model output are able to improve simulation of spatial and temporal variability in temperature and precipitation across the region. We then develop high-resolution projections of future climate change across the northeast USA, using IPCC SRES emission scenarios combined with these downscaling methods. The projections show increases in temperature that are larger at higher latitudes and inland, as well as the potential for changing precipitation patterns, particularly along the coast. While the absolute magnitude of change expected over the coming century depends on the sensitivity of the climate system to human forcing, significantly higher increases in temperature and in winter precipitation are expected under a higher as compared to lower scenario of future emissions from human activities.

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We acknowledge NOAA/FSL and NCSA/UIUC for their supercomputing support. We acknowledge the international modeling groups for providing their data for analysis, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) for collecting and archiving the model output, the JSC/CLIVAR Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) and their Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) and Climate Simulation Panel for organizing the model output analysis activity, and the IPCC WG1 TSU for technical support. The IPCC Data Archive at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy. The research was partially supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under award number EPA RD-83096301-0 and by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration under award number NA05OAR4601080. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the sponsoring agencies or the Illinois State Water Survey.

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Correspondence to Katharine Hayhoe.

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Hayhoe, K., Wake, C., Anderson, B. et al. Regional climate change projections for the Northeast USA. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 13, 425–436 (2008).

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  • Climate change
  • Downscaling
  • General circulation model
  • Greenhouse gas emission scenarios
  • Northeast United States