More robust regional precipitation projection from selected CMIP5 models based on multiple-dimensional metrics

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 10:50
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Projecting precipitation changes is challenging because of incomplete understanding of the climate system and biases and uncertainty in climate models. In East Asia where summer precipitation is dominantly influenced by the monsoon circulation and the global models from Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), however, give various projection of precipitation change for 21th century. It is critical for community to know which models’ projection are more reliable in response to natural and anthropogenic forcings. In this study we defined multiple-dimensional metrics, measuring the model performance in simulating the present-day of large-scale circulation, regional precipitation and relationship between them. The large-scale circulation features examined in this study include the lower tropospheric southwesterly winds, the western North Pacific subtropical high, the South China Sea Subtropical High, and the East Asian westerly jet in the upper troposphere. Each of these circulation features transport moisture to East Asia, enhancing the moist static energy and strengthening the Meiyu moisture front that is the primary mechanism for precipitation generation in eastern China. Based on these metrics, 30 models in CMIP5 ensemble are classified into three groups. Models in the top performing group projected regional precipitation patterns that are more similar to each other than the bottom or middle performing group and consistently projected statistically significant increasing trends in two of the large-scale circulation indices and precipitation. In contrast, models in the bottom or middle performing group projected small drying or no trends in precipitation. We also find the models that only reasonably reproduce the observed precipitation climatology does not guarantee more reliable projection of future precipitation because good simulation skill could be achieved through compensating errors from multiple sources. Herein the potential for more robust projections of precipitation changes at regional scale is demonstrated through the use of discriminating metric to subsample the multi-model ensemble. The results from this study provides insights for how to select models from CMIP ensemble to project regional climate and hydrological cycle changes.

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