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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: model evaluation paper 04 Mar 2020

Submitted as: model evaluation paper | 04 Mar 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Can high-resolution GCMs reach the level of information provided by 12–50 km CORDEX RCMs in terms of daily precipitation distribution?

Marie-Estelle Demory1, Ségolène Berthou2, Silje L. Sørland1, Malcolm J. Roberts2, Urs Beyerle1, Jon Seddon2, Rein Haarsma3, Christoph Schär1, Ole B. Christensen4, Rowan Fealy5, Jesus Fernandez6, Grigory Nikulin7, Daniele Peano8, Dian Putrasahan9, Christopher D. Roberts10, Christian Steger11, Claas Teichmann12, and Robert Vautard13 Marie-Estelle Demory et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2Met Office Hadley Centre, EX1 3PB Exeter, UK
  • 3KNMI, 3731 GA De Bilt, the Netherlands
  • 4Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 5ICARUS/Department of Geography, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland
  • 6University of Cantabria, 39005 Santander, Spain
  • 7Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), 60176 Norrköping, Sweden
  • 8CMCC, 40127 Bologna, Italy
  • 9Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie (MPI), 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 10ECMWF, RG2 9AX Reading, UK
  • 11Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), 63067 Offenbach, Germany
  • 12ClimateService Center Germany (GERICS), Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, 20095 Hamburg, Germany
  • 13Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, Paris, France

Abstract. In this study, we perform an evaluation of PRIMAVERA high-resolution (25–50 km) Global Climate Models (GCMs) relative to CORDEX Regional Climate Models (RCMs) over Europe (12–50 km resolutions). It is the first time such assessment is performed for regional climate information using ensembles of GCMs and RCMs at similar horizontal resolutions. We perform this exercise for the distribution of daily precipitation contributions to rainfall bins over Europe under current climate conditions. Both ensembles are evaluated against high quality national gridded observations in terms of resolution and station density. We show that PRIMAVERA GCMs simulate very similar distribution to CORDEX RCMs that CMIP5 cannot because of their coarse resolutions. PRIMAVERA and CORDEX ensembles generally show similar strengths and weaknesses. They are of good quality in summer and autumn in most European regions, but tend to overestimate precipitation in winter and spring. PRIMAVERA show improvements in the latter bias by reducing mid-rain rate biases in Central and Eastern Europe. Moreover, CORDEX simulate less light rainfall than PRIMAVERA in most regions and seasons, which improves this common GCM bias. Finally, PRIMAVERA simulate less heavy precipitation than CORDEX in most regions and seasons, especially in summer. PRIMAVERA appear to be closer to observations. However, when we apply an averaged precipitation undercatch error of 20 %, CORDEX become closer to these synthetic datasets. Considering 50 km resolution GCM or RCM datasets over Europe results in large benefits compared to CMIP5 models for impact studies at the regional scale. The effect of increasing resolution from 50 km to 12 km in CORDEX simulations is, in comparison, small in most regions and seasons outside mountainous regions (due to the importance of orography) and coastal regions (mostly depending on the resolution of the land-sea contrast). Now that GCMs are able to reach the level of information provided by CORDEX RCMs run at similar resolutions, there is an opportunity to better coordinate GCM and RCM simulations for future model intercomparison projects.

Marie-Estelle Demory et al.

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Status: open (until 29 Apr 2020)
Status: open (until 29 Apr 2020)
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Marie-Estelle Demory et al.

Data sets

Comparison of precipitation distributions over Europe (CORDEX-PRIMAVERA) S. Berthou and M.-E. Demory

Model code and software

Comparison of precipitation distributions over Europe (CORDEX-PRIMAVERA) S. Berthou and M.-E. Demory

Marie-Estelle Demory et al.


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Latest update: 28 Mar 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Now that Global Climate Models (GCM) can run at similar resolutions than Regional Climate Models (RCM), one may wonder whether GCMs and RCMs provide similar regional climate information. We perform such evaluation for daily precipitation distribution in PRIMAVERA GCMs (25–50 km resolution) and CORDEX RCMs (12–50 km resolution) over Europe. We show that PRIMAVERA and CORDEX simulate similar distributions. Considering both datasets at such resolution results in large benefits for impact studies.
Now that Global Climate Models (GCM) can run at similar resolutions than Regional Climate Models...