Accounting for Global Climate Model Projection Uncertainty in Modern Statistical Downscaling

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Future climate change has emerged as a national and a global security threat. To carry out the needed adaptation and mitigation steps, a quantification of the expected level of climate change is needed, both at the global and the regional scale; in the end, the impact of climate change is felt at the local/regional level. An important part of such climate change assessment is uncertainty quantification. Decision and policy makers are not only interested in 'best guesses' of expected climate change, but rather probabilistic quantification (e.g., Rougier, 2007). For example, consider the following question: What is the probability that the ... continued below

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Johannesson, G March 17, 2010.

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Future climate change has emerged as a national and a global security threat. To carry out the needed adaptation and mitigation steps, a quantification of the expected level of climate change is needed, both at the global and the regional scale; in the end, the impact of climate change is felt at the local/regional level. An important part of such climate change assessment is uncertainty quantification. Decision and policy makers are not only interested in 'best guesses' of expected climate change, but rather probabilistic quantification (e.g., Rougier, 2007). For example, consider the following question: What is the probability that the average summer temperature will increase by at least 4 C in region R if global CO{sub 2} emission increases by P% from current levels by time T? It is a simple question, but one that remains very difficult to answer. It is answering these kind of questions that is the focus of this effort. The uncertainty associated with future climate change can be attributed to three major factors: (1) Uncertainty about future emission of green house gasses (GHG). (2) Given a future GHG emission scenario, what is its impact on the global climate? (3) Given a particular evolution of the global climate, what does it mean for a particular location/region? In what follows, we assume a particular GHG emission scenario has been selected. Given the GHG emission scenario, the current batch of the state-of-the-art global climate models (GCMs) is used to simulate future climate under this scenario, yielding an ensemble of future climate projections (which reflect, to some degree our uncertainty of being able to simulate future climate give a particular GHG scenario). Due to the coarse-resolution nature of the GCM projections, they need to be spatially downscaled for regional impact assessments. To downscale a given GCM projection, two methods have emerged: dynamical downscaling and statistical (empirical) downscaling (SDS). Dynamic downscaling involves configuring and running a regional climate model (RCM) nested within a given GCM projection (i.e., the GCM provides bounder conditions for the RCM). On the other hand, statistical downscaling aims at establishing a statistical relationship between observed local/regional climate variables of interest and synoptic (GCM-scale) climate predictors. The resulting empirical relationship is then applied to future GCM projections. A comparison of the pros and cons of dynamical versus statistical downscaling is outside the scope of this effort, but has been extensively studied and the reader is referred to Wilby et al. (1998); Murphy (1999); Wood et al. (2004); Benestad et al. (2007); Fowler et al. (2007), and references within those. The scope of this effort is to study methodology, a statistical framework, to propagate and account for GCM uncertainty in regional statistical downscaling assessment. In particular, we will explore how to leverage an ensemble of GCM projections to quantify the impact of the GCM uncertainty in such an assessment. There are three main component to this effort: (1) gather the necessary climate-related data for a regional SDS study, including multiple GCM projections, (2) carry out SDS, and (3) assess the uncertainty. The first step is carried out using tools written in the Python programming language, while analysis tools were developed in the statistical programming language R; see Figure 1.

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  • Report No.: LLNL-TR-426343
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/974391 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 974391
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc925752

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  • March 17, 2010

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 2, 2016, 7:04 p.m.

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Johannesson, G. Accounting for Global Climate Model Projection Uncertainty in Modern Statistical Downscaling, report, March 17, 2010; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc925752/: accessed April 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.