Burger
Journalpaper

A new spatially distributed added value index for regional climate models: the EURO-CORDEX and the CORDEX-CORE highest resolution ensembles

Abstract

The added value of using regional climate models (RCMs) to downscale data from general circulation models (GCMs) has often been questioned and researched. Although several studies have used different methods to identify (and in some cases quantify) the added value, there is still a need to find a general metric that quantifies the added value of any variable. This paper builds on past studies to propose a new metric of added value in the simulation of present-day climate which measures the difference in the probability density functions (PDFs) at each grid-cell between a model and an observation source, and then compares the results of the RCM and GCM in order to spatially compute the added value index. The same method is also adapted to quantify the climate change downscaling signal in a way that is consistent with the present-day metric. These new metrics are tested on the daily precipitation output from the EURO-CORDEX and CORDEX-CORE projection ensembles and reveal an overall positive added value of RCMs, especially at the tail-end of the distribution. Higher added value is obtained in areas of complex topography and coast-lines, as well as in tropical regions. Areas with large added value in present-day climate are consistent with areas of significant climate change downscaling signal in the RCP 8.5 far future simulations, and when the analysis is repeated at a low-resolution. The use of different resolution observations shows that the added value tends to decrease when models are compared to low-resolution observation datasets.
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