Is bias correction of Regional Climate Model (RCM) simulations possible for non-stationary conditions?
2012 (English)In: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, ISSN 1812-2108, E-ISSN 1812-2116, Vol. 9, no 11, 12765-12795 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
In hydrological climate-change impact studies, Regional Climate Models (RCMs) are commonly used to transfer large-scale Global Climate Model (GCM) data to smaller scales and to provide more detailed regional information. However, there are often considerable biases in RCM simulations, which have led to the development of a number of bias correction approaches to provide more realistic climate simulations for impact studies. Bias correction procedures rely on the assumption that RCM biases do not change over time, because correction algorithms and their parameterizations are derived for current climate conditions and assumed to apply also for future climate conditions. This underlying assumption of bias stationarity is the main concern when using bias correction procedures. It is in principle not possible to test whether this assumption is actually fulfilled for future climate conditions. In this study, however, we demonstrate that it is possible to evaluate how well bias correction methods perform for conditions different from those used for calibration. For five Swedish catchments, several time series of RCM simulated precipitation and temperature were obtained from the ENSEMBLES data base and different commonly-used bias correction methods were applied. We then performed a differential split-sample test by dividing the data series into cold and warm respective dry and wet years. This enabled us to evaluate the performance of different bias correction procedures under systematically varying climate conditions. The differential split-sample test resulted in a large spread and a clear bias for some of the correction methods during validation years. More advanced correction methods such as distribution mapping performed relatively well even in the validation period, whereas simpler approaches resulted in the largest deviations and least reliable corrections for changed conditions. Therefore, we question the use of simple bias correction methods such as the widely used delta-change approach and linear scaling for RCM-based climate-change impact studies and recommend using higher-skill bias correction methods.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 9, no 11, 12765-12795 p.
RCM, bias correction, downscaling, hydrology, differential split-sample test
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources Climate Research
Research subject Physical Geography
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-84190DOI: 10.5194/hessd-9-12765-2012OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-84190DiVA: diva2:578754