Köppen Bioclimatic Evaluation of CMIP Historical Climate Simulations

TitleKöppen Bioclimatic Evaluation of CMIP Historical Climate Simulations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsPhillips, Thomas J., and Bonfils Ceine J. W.
Date Published07/2015
Abstract / Summary

Köppen bioclimatic classification relates generic vegetation types to characteristics of the interactive annual-cycles of continental temperature (T) and precipitation (P). In addition to predicting possible bioclimatic consequences of past or prospective climate change, a Köppen scheme can be used to pinpoint biases in model simulations of historical T and P. In this study a Köppen evaluation of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) simulations of historical climate is conducted for the period 1980 to 1999. Evaluation of an example CMIP5 model illustrates how errors in simulating Köppen vegetation types (relative to those derived from observational reference data) can be deconstructed and related to model-specific temperature and precipitation biases. Measures of CMIP model skill in simulating the reference Köppen vegetation types are also developed, allowing the bioclimatic performance of a CMIP5 simulation of T and P to be compared quantitatively with its CMIP3 antecedent. Although certain bioclimatic discrepancies persist across model generations, the CMIP5 models collectively display an improved rendering of historical T and P relative to their CMIP3 counterparts. In addition, the Köppen-based performance metrics are found to be quite insensitive to alternative choices of observational reference data or to differences in model horizontal resolution.

DOI10.1088/1748-9326/10/6/064005
Year of Publication: 2015
Date Published: 07/2015

Köppen bioclimatic classification relates generic vegetation types to characteristics of the interactive annual-cycles of continental temperature (T) and precipitation (P). In addition to predicting possible bioclimatic consequences of past or prospective climate change, a Köppen scheme can be used to pinpoint biases in model simulations of historical T and P. In this study a Köppen evaluation of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) simulations of historical climate is conducted for the period 1980 to 1999. Evaluation of an example CMIP5 model illustrates how errors in simulating Köppen vegetation types (relative to those derived from observational reference data) can be deconstructed and related to model-specific temperature and precipitation biases. Measures of CMIP model skill in simulating the reference Köppen vegetation types are also developed, allowing the bioclimatic performance of a CMIP5 simulation of T and P to be compared quantitatively with its CMIP3 antecedent. Although certain bioclimatic discrepancies persist across model generations, the CMIP5 models collectively display an improved rendering of historical T and P relative to their CMIP3 counterparts. In addition, the Köppen-based performance metrics are found to be quite insensitive to alternative choices of observational reference data or to differences in model horizontal resolution.

DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/10/6/064005
Citation:
Phillips, TJ, and CJ Bonfils.  2015.  "Köppen Bioclimatic Evaluation of CMIP Historical Climate Simulations."  https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/10/6/064005.