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Publication Date
1 June 2023

Technical descriptions of the experimental dynamical downscaling simulations over North America by the CAM–MPAS variable-resolution model



Comprehensive assessment of climate datasets is important for communicating model projections and associated uncertainties to stakeholders. Uncertainties can arise not only from assumptions and biases within the model but also from external factors such as computational constraint and data processing. To understand sources of uncertainties in global variable-resolution (VR) dynamical downscaling, we produced a regional climate dataset using the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS; dynamical core version 4.0) coupled to the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM; version 5.4), which we refer to as CAM–MPAS hereafter. This document provides technical details of the model configuration, simulations, computational requirements, post-processing, and data archive of the experimental CAM–MPAS downscaling data. The CAM–MPAS model is configured with VR meshes featuring higher resolutions over North America as well as quasi-uniform-resolution meshes across the globe. The dataset includes multiple uniform- (240 and 120 km) and variable-resolution (50–200, 25–100, and 12–46 km) simulations for both the present-day (1990–2010) and future (2080–2100) periods, closely following the protocol of the North American Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment. A deviation from the protocol is the pseudo-warming experiment for the future period, using the ocean boundary conditions produced by adding the sea surface temperature and sea-ice changes from the low-resolution version of the Max Planck Institute Earth System Model (MPI-ESM-LR) in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 to the present-day ocean state from a reanalysis product. Some unique aspects of global VR models are evaluated to provide background knowledge to data users and to explore good practices for modelers who use VR models for regional downscaling. In the coarse-resolution domain, strong resolution sensitivity of the hydrological cycles exists over the tropics but does not appear to affect the midlatitude circulations in the Northern Hemisphere, including the downscaling target of North America. The pseudo-warming experiment leads to similar responses of large-scale circulations to the imposed radiative and boundary forcings in the CAM–MPAS and MPI-ESM-LR models, but their climatological states in the historical period differ over various regions, including North America. Such differences are carried to the future period, suggesting the importance of the base state climatology. Within the refined domain, precipitation statistics improve with higher resolutions, and such statistical inference is verified to be negligibly influenced by horizontal remapping during post-processing. Limited (≈50 % slower) throughput of the current code is found on a recent many-core/wide-vector high-performance computing system, which limits the lengths of the 12–46 km simulations and indirectly affects sampling uncertainty. Our experience shows that global and technical aspects of the VR downscaling framework require further investigations to reduce uncertainties for regional climate projection.

Sakaguchi , Koichi, L. Ruby Leung, Colin M. Zarzycki, Jihyeon Jang, Seth McGinnis, Bryce E. Harrop, William C. Skamarock, et al. 2023. “Technical Descriptions Of The Experimental Dynamical Downscaling Simulations Over North America By The Cam–Mpas Variable-Resolution Model”. Geoscientific Model Development 16 (10). Copernicus GmbH: 3029-3081. doi:10.5194/gmd-16-3029-2023.
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