Error characteristics of high resolution regional climate models over the Alpine area


This study describes typical error ranges of high resolution regional climate models operated over complex orography and investigates the scale-dependence of these error ranges. The results are valid primarily for the European Alpine region, but to some extent they can also be transferred to other orographically complex regions of the world. We investigate the model errors by evaluating a set of 62 one-year hindcast experiments for the year 1999 with four different regional climate models. The analysis is conducted for the parameters mean sea level pressure, air temperature (mean, minimum and maximum) and precipitation (mean, frequency and intensity), both as an area average over the whole modeled domain (the “Greater Alpine Region”, GAR) and in six subregions. The subregional seasonal error ranges, defined as the interval between the 2.5th percentile and the 97.5th percentile, lie between −3.2 and +2.0 K for temperature and between −2.0 and +3.1 mm/day (−45.7 and +94.7%) for precipitation, respectively. While the temperature error ranges are hardly broadened at smaller scales, the precipitation error ranges increase by 28%. These results demonstrate that high resolution RCMs are applicable in relatively small scale climate impact studies with a comparable quality as on well investigated larger scales as far as temperature is concerned. For precipitation, which is a much more demanding parameter, the quality is moderately degraded on smaller scales.
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