Impacts of bias correction of lateral boundary conditions on regional climate projections in West Africa
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Biases existing in the lateral boundary conditions (LBCs) influence climate simulations in regional climate models (RCMs). Correcting the biases in global climate model (GCM)-produced LBCs before running RCMs was proposed in previous studies as a possible way to reduce the GCM-related model dependence of future climate projections using RCMs. In this study the ICTP Regional Climate Model Version 4 (RegCM4) is used to investigate the impact of LBC bias correction on projected future changes of regional climate in West Africa. To accomplish this, two types of present versus future simulations are conducted using RegCM4: a control type where both the present and future LBCs are derived directly from the GCM output (as is done in most regional climate downscaling studies); an experiment type where the present-day LBCs are from reanalysis data and future LBCs are derived by combining the reanalysis data and the GCM-projected LBC changes. For each type of simulations, three different sets of LBCs are experimented on: 6-hourly synoptic forcing directly from the reanalysis or GCM, 6-hourly data interpolated from monthly climatology (without diurnal cycle), and 6-hourly data interpolated from the month-specific climatology of diurnal cycles. It is found that the simulations using different LBCs produce similar present-day summer rainfall patterns, but the predicted future changes differ significantly depending on how the LBC bias correction is treated. Specifically, both the bias correction applied at the synoptic scale and the bias correction applied to the monthly interpolated LBCs without diurnal cycle produce a spurious drying signal caused by physical inconsistency in the corrected future LBCs. Interpolated monthly LBCs with diurnal cycle alleviate the problem to a large extent. These results suggest that using bias-corrected LBCs to drive regional climate models may not guarantee reliable future projections although reasonable present climate can be simulated. Physical inconsistencies may be contained in the bias-corrected LBCs, increasing the uncertainties of RCM-produced future projections.
KeywordsBias correction Regional climate prediction Downscaling West Africa
We thank ECMWF for providing the Interim reanalysis data and NOAA for providing the OISST and NCEP reanalysis data. We thank University of Delaware for the observed precipitation and near-surface air temperature. We also thank Systems Laboratory (CISL) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) providing the CESM output and PCMDI for providing the GFDL-ESM2M output. Funding support for this research is provided by the NSF Climate and Large-Scale Dynamics Program (AGS 1049017 & AGS 1063986). Computing resources were provided by the University of Connecticut BECAT.
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