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Publication Date
1 June 2018

The Benefits of Global High-Resolution for Climate Simulation: Process-Understanding and the Enabling of Stakeholder Decisions at the Regional Scale



A perspective on current and future capabilities in global high-resolution climate simulation for assessing climate risks over next few decades, including advances in process representation and analysis, justifying the emergence of dedicated, coordinated experimental protocols. The timescales of the Paris Climate Agreement indicate urgent action is required on climate policies over the next few decades, in order to avoid the worst risks posed by climate change. On these relatively short timescales, the combined effect of climate variability and change are both key drivers of extreme events, with decadal timescales also important for infrastructure planning. Hence, in order to assess climate risk on such timescales, we require climate models to be able to represent key aspects of both internally driven climate variability, as well as the response to changing forcings. In this paper, we argue that we now have the modeling capability to address these requirements - specifically with global models having horizontal resolutions considerably enhanced from those typically used in previous IPCC and CMIP exercises. The improved representation of weather and climate processes in such models underpins our enhanced confidence in predictions and projections, as well as providing improved forcing to regional models, which are better able to represent local-scale extremes (such as convective precipitation). We choose the global water cycle as an illustrative example because it is governed by a chain of processes for which there is growing evidence of the benefits of higher resolution. At the same time, it comprises key processes involved in many of the expected future climate extremes (e.g. flooding, drought, tropical and mid-latitude storms).

“The Benefits Of Global High-Resolution For Climate Simulation: Process-Understanding And The Enabling Of Stakeholder Decisions At The Regional Scale”. 2018. Bulletin Of The American Meteorological Society 99. doi:10.1175/bams-d-15-00320.1.
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