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Publication Date
9 September 2020

Regional Climate Change Projections from NA-CORDEX and their Relation to Climate Sensitivity



The climate sensitivity of global climate models (GCMs) strongly influences projected climate change due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. Reasonably, the climate sensitivity of a GCM may be expected to affect dynamically downscaled projections. However, there has been little examination of the effect of the climate sensitivity of GCMs on regional climate model (RCM) ensembles. Therefore, we present projections of temperature and precipitation from the ensemble of projections produced as a part of the North American branch of the international Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (NA-CORDEX) in the context of their relationship to the climate sensitivity of their parent GCMs. NA-CORDEX simulations were produced at 50-km and 25-km resolutions with multiple RCMs which downscaled multiple GCMs that spanned nearly the full range of climate sensitivity available in the CMIP5 archive. We show that climate sensitivity is a very important source of spread in the NA-CORDEX ensemble, particularly for temperature. Temperature projections correlate with driving GCM climate sensitivity annually and seasonally across North America not only at a continental scale but also at a local-to-regional scale. Importantly, the spread in temperature projections would be reduced if only low, mid, or high climate sensitivity simulations were considered, or if only the ensemble mean were considered. Precipitation projections correlate with climate sensitivity, but only at a continental scale during the cold season, due to the increasing influence of other processes at finer scales. Additionally, it is shown that the RCMs do alter the projection space sampled by their driving GCMs.
“Regional Climate Change Projections From Na-Cordex And Their Relation To Climate Sensitivity ”. 2020. Climate Change 162: 645-665. doi:10.1007/s10584-020-02835-x.
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