Bias-corrected regional climate projections of extreme rainfall in south-east Australia.

J.P. Evans, D. Argueso, R. Olson and A. Di Luca
Theoretical and Applied Climatology, doi: 10.1007/s00704-016-1949-9, 2016.


This study presents future changes in extreme precipitation as projected within the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory Regional Climate Modelling (NARCliM) project’s regional climate ensemble for south-east Australia. Model performance, independence and projected future changes were considered when designing the ensemble. We applied a quantile mapping bias correction to the climate model outputs based on theoretical distribution functions, and the implications of this for the projected precipitation extremes is investigated. Precipitation extremes are quantified using several indices from the Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices set of indices. The bias correction was successful in removing most of the magnitude bias in extreme precipitation but does not correct biases in the length of maximum wet and dry spells. The bias correction also had a relatively small effect on the projected future changes. Across a range of metrics, robust increases in the magnitude of precipitation extreme indices are found. While these increases are often in-line with a continuation of the trends present over the last century, they are not found to be statistically significant within the ensemble as a whole. The length of the maximum consecutive wet spell is projected to remain at present-day levels, while the length of the maximum dry spell is projected to increase into the future. The combination of longer dry spells and increases in extreme precipitation magnitude indicate an important change in the character of the precipitation time series. This could have considerable hydrological implications since changes in the sequencing of events can be just as important as changes in event magnitude for hydrological impacts.

Key Figure

Fig. 9 Multi-model mean changes between the present day (1990–2009) and far future (2060–2079) in annual. a Number of very heavy precipitation days (R20mm), b contribution from very wet days (R95p), c maximum consecutive dry days (CDD) and d maximum consecutive wet days (CWD). Stippling indicates that the changes are ‘significant agreeing’ at the 5 % level. White circles (left to right): Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane.

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