Can Bias Correction of Regional Climate Model Lateral Boundary Conditions Improve Low-Frequency Rainfall Variability?

Rocheta, E., J.P. Evans and A. Sharma
Journal of Climate, 30, 9785-9806, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0654.1, 2017.


Global climate model simulations inherently contain multiple biases that, when used as boundary conditions for regional climate models, have the potential to produce poor downscaled simulations. Removing these biases before downscaling can potentially improve regional climate change impact assessment. In particular, reducing the low-frequency variability biases in atmospheric variables as well as modeled rainfall is important for hydrological impact assessment, predominantly for the improved simulation of floods and droughts. The impact of this bias in the lateral boundary conditions driving the dynamical downscaling has not been explored before. Here the use of three approaches for correcting the lateral boundary biases including mean, variance, and modification of sample moments through the use of a nested bias correction (NBC) method that corrects for low-frequency variability bias is investigated. These corrections are implemented at the 6-hourly time scale on the global climate model simulations to drive a regional climate model over the Australian Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) domain. The results show that the most substantial improvement in low-frequency variability after bias correction is obtained from modifying the mean field, with smaller changes attributed to the variance. Explicitly modifying monthly and annual lag-1 autocorrelations through NBC does not substantially improve low-frequency variability attributes of simulated precipitation in the regional model over a simpler mean bias correction. These results raise questions about the nature of bias correction techniques that are required to successfully gain improvement in regional climate model simulations and show that more complicated techniques do not necessarily lead to more skillful simulation.

Key Figure

FIG. 8. (a) Aggregated persistence scores using AWAP as the observational reference for 1–12-month aggregations for (from top to bottom) RCM(ERA-I), RCM(GCM), RCM(GCMx ), RCM(GCMx,s ),RCM (GCMNBC), and RCM(GCMNBC-noSST); (b),(c) as in (a), but for 12–24-month and 24–36-month aggregations, respectively. Refer to section 2c for score descriptions.

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