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Assessing the impact of climate change over the northwest of Iran: an overview of statistical downscaling methods

Abstract

Due to the spatial-temporal inadequacy of large-scale general circulation models (GCMs), linking large-scale GCM data with small-scale local climatic data has found great interest. In this paper, in order to downscale minimum and maximum temperatures and precipitation predictands, the performance of three statistical downscaling techniques including Long Ashton Research Station-Weather Generator (LARS-WG), statistical downscaling model (SDSM), and artificial neural network (ANN) was compared based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC-AR5) in northwest Iran. For this purpose, a nonparametric test named Mann-Whitney test, Spearman correlation coefficient, and the root mean square error (RMSE) were utilized to assess the efficiency of downscaling models. To scrutinize the climate change impacts, periods of 1961–1990 and 1991–2005 were considered as the baseline and verification periods, respectively. The findings revealed the superior performance of the ANN model for minimum and maximum temperatures, while for precipitation predictand, the SDSM represented the best performance among the models. Simulation results for future temperature indicated an ascending trend as 0.1–1.3 °C, 0.3–1.7 °C, and 0.5–2.1 °C for LARS-WG, SDSM, and ANN techniques, respectively. On the other hand, simulation outputs for the precipitation indicated a descending trend of 10–30% in future precipitation of the region according to downscaling models under Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) pessimistic scenario of Hadley Center Coupled Model version 3 (HadCM3) GCM model.

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Acknowledgments

We are deeply grateful to East Azerbaijan Meteorological Organization for providing reliable and insightful data. We also appreciate the IPCC Data Distribution Center as we benefited greatly from their detailed and authentic data.

Funding

This research was financially supported by the University of Tabriz research affairs.

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Correspondence to Aida Hosseini Baghanam or Mehdi Eslahi.

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Baghanam, A.H., Eslahi, M., Sheikhbabaei, A. et al. Assessing the impact of climate change over the northwest of Iran: an overview of statistical downscaling methods. Theor Appl Climatol 141, 1135–1150 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-020-03271-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-020-03271-8

Keywords

  • ANN
  • Climate change
  • Downscaling
  • GCM
  • LARS-WG
  • Mann-Whitney test
  • SDSM
  • Spearman correlation coefficient
  • Root mean square error