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Di Luca A.,University of Quebec at Montreal | de Elia R.,Center etude et Simulation du Climat a lechelle Regionale | Laprise R.,University of Quebec at Montreal
Climate Dynamics | Year: 2013

In recent decades, the need of future climate information at local scales have pushed the climate modelling community to perform increasingly higher resolution simulations and to develop alternative approaches to obtain fine-scale climatic information. In this article, various nested regional climate model (RCM) simulations have been used to try to identify regions across North America where high-resolution downscaling generates fine-scale details in the climate projection derived using the "delta method". Two necessary conditions were identified for an RCM to produce added value (AV) over lower resolution atmosphere-ocean general circulation models in the fine-scale component of the climate change (CC) signal. First, the RCM-derived CC signal must contain some non-negligible fine-scale information-independently of the RCM ability to produce AV in the present climate. Second, the uncertainty related with the estimation of this fine-scale information should be relatively small compared with the information itself in order to suggest that RCMs are able to simulate robust fine-scale features in the CC signal. Clearly, considering necessary (but not sufficient) conditions means that we are studying the "potential" of RCMs to add value instead of the AV, which preempts and avoids any discussion of the actual skill and hence the need for hindcast comparisons. The analysis concentrates on the CC signal obtained from the seasonal-averaged temperature and precipitation fields and shows that the fine-scale variability of the CC signal is generally small compared to its large-scale component, suggesting that little AV can be expected for the time-averaged fields. For the temperature variable, the largest potential for fine-scale added value appears in coastal regions mainly related with differential warming in land and oceanic surfaces. Fine-scale features can account for nearly 60 % of the total CC signal in some coastal regions although for most regions the fine scale contributions to the total CC signal are of around ~5 %. For the precipitation variable, fine scales contribute to a change of generally less than 15 % of the seasonal-averaged precipitation in present climate with a continental North American average of ~5 % in both summer and winter seasons. In the case of precipitation, uncertainty due to sampling issues may further dilute the information present in the downscaled fine scales. These results suggest that users of RCM simulations for climate change studies in a delta method framework have little high-resolution information to gain from RCMs at least if they limit themselves to the study of first-order statistical moments. Other possible benefits arising from the use of RCMs-such as in the large scale of the downscaled fields- were not explored in this research. © 2012 The Author(s). Source

Nikiema O.,Center etude et Simulation du Climat a lechelle Regionale | Laprise R.,Center etude et Simulation du Climat a lechelle Regionale
Climate Dynamics | Year: 2013

The presence of internal variability (IV) in ensembles of nested regional climate model (RCM) simulations is now widely acknowledged in the community working on dynamical downscaling. IV is defined as the inter-member spread between members in an ensemble of simulations performed by a given RCM driven by identical lateral boundary conditions (LBC), where different members are being initialised at different times. The physical mechanisms responsible for the time variations and structure of such IV have only recently begun to receive attention. Recent studies have shown empirical evidence of a close parallel between the energy conversions associated with the time fluctuations of IV in ensemble simulations of RCM and the energy conversions taking place in weather systems. Inspired by the classical work on global energetics of weather systems, we sought a formulation of an energy cycle for IV that would be applicable for limited-area domain. We develop here a novel formalism based on local energetics that can be applied to further our understanding IV. Prognostic equations for ensemble-mean kinetic energy and available enthalpy are decomposed into contributions due to ensemble-mean variables (EM) and those due to deviations from the ensemble mean (IV). Together these equations constitute an energy cycle for IV in ensemble simulations of RCM. Although the energy cycle for IV was developed in a context entirely different from that of energetics of weather systems, the exchange terms between the various reservoirs have a rather similar mathematical form, which facilitates some interpretations of their physical meaning. © 2012 The Author(s). Source

Diaconescu E.P.,University of Quebec at Montreal | Diaconescu E.P.,Center etude et Simulation du Climat a lechelle Regionale | Laprise R.,University of Quebec at Montreal | Laprise R.,Center etude et Simulation du Climat a lechelle Regionale | And 3 more authors.
Climate Dynamics | Year: 2012

Previous studies have shown that Regional Climate Models (RCM) internal variability (IV) fluctuates in time depending on synoptic events. This study focuses on the physical understanding of episodes with rapid growth of IV. An ensemble of 21 simulations, differing only in their initial conditions, was run over North America using version 5 of the Canadian RCM (CRCM). The IV is quantified in terms of energy of CRCM perturbations with respect to a reference simulation. The working hypothesis is that IV is arising through rapidly growing perturbations developed in dynamically unstable regions. If indeed IV is triggered by the growth of unstable perturbations, a large proportion of the CRCM perturbations must project onto the most unstable singular vectors (SVs). A set of ten SVs was computed to identify the orthogonal set of perturbations that provide the maximum growth with respect to the dry total-energy norm during the course of the CRCM ensemble of simulations. CRCM perturbations were then projected onto the subspace of SVs. The analysis of one episode of rapid growth of IV is presented in detail. It is shown that a large part of the IV growth is explained by initially small-amplitude unstable perturbations represented by the ten leading SVs, the SV subspace accounting for over 70% of the CRCM IV growth in 36 h. The projection on the leading SV at final time is greater than the projection on the remaining SVs and there is a high similarity between the CRCM perturbations and the leading SV after 24-36 h tangent-linear model integration. The vertical structure of perturbations revealed that the baroclinic conversion is the dominant process in IV growth for this particular episode. © 2011 The Author(s). Source

Bellprat O.,Institute Catala Of Ciences Del Clima Ic3 | Bellprat O.,ETH Zurich | Kotlarski S.,ETH Zurich | Luthi D.,ETH Zurich | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Climate | Year: 2016

An important source of model uncertainty in climate models arises from unconfined model parameters in physical parameterizations. These parameters are commonly estimated on the basis of manual adjustments (expert tuning), which carries the risk of overtuning the parameters for a specific climate region or time period. This issue is particularly germane in the case of regional climate models (RCMs), which are often developed and used in one or a few geographical regions only. This study addresses the role of objective parameter calibration in this context. Using a previously developed objective calibration methodology, an RCM is calibrated over two regions (Europe and North America) and is used to investigate the transferability of the results. A total of eight different model parameters are calibrated, using a metamodel to account for parameter interactions. The study demonstrates that the calibration is effective in reducing model biases in both domains. For Europe, this concerns in particular a pronounced reduction of the summer warm bias and the associated overestimation of interannual temperature variability that have persisted through previous expert tuning efforts and are common in many global and regional climate models. The key process responsible for this improvement is an increased hydraulic conductivity. Higher hydraulic conductivity increases the water availability at the land surface and leads to increased evaporative cooling, stronger low cloud formation, and associated reduced incoming shortwave radiation. The calibrated parameter values are found to be almost identical for both domains; that is, the parameter calibration is transferable between the two regions. This is a promising result and indicates that models may be more universal than previously considered. © 2016 American Meteorological Society. Source

Separovic L.,Center etude et Simulation du Climat a lechelle Regionale | Separovic L.,University of Quebec at Montreal | Alexandru A.,Center etude et Simulation du Climat a lechelle Regionale | Alexandru A.,University of Quebec at Montreal | And 13 more authors.
Climate Dynamics | Year: 2013

The fifth-generation Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM5) was used to dynamically downscale two Coupled Global Climate Model (CGCM) simulations of the transient climate change for the period 1950-2100, over North America, following the CORDEX protocol. The CRCM5 was driven by data from the CanESM2 and MPI-ESM-LR CGCM simulations, based on the historical (1850-2005) and future (2006-2100) RCP4.5 radiative forcing scenario. The results show that the CRCM5 simulations reproduce relatively well the current-climate North American regional climatic features, such as the temperature and precipitation multiannual means, annual cycles and temporal variability at daily scale. A cold bias was noted during the winter season over western and southern portions of the continent. CRCM5-simulated precipitation accumulations at daily temporal scale are much more realistic when compared with its driving CGCM simulations, especially in summer when small-scale driven convective precipitation has a large contribution over land. The CRCM5 climate projections imply a general warming over the continent in the 21st century, especially over the northern regions in winter. The winter warming is mostly contributed by the lower percentiles of daily temperatures, implying a reduction in the frequency and intensity of cold waves. A precipitation decrease is projected over Central America and an increase over the rest of the continent. For the average precipitation change in summer however there is little consensus between the simulations. Some of these differences can be attributed to the uncertainties in CGCM-projected changes in the position and strength of the Pacific Ocean subtropical high pressure. © 2013 The Author(s). Source

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