Application of Regional Climate Models for Updating Intensity-duration-frequency Curves under Climate Change

Main Article Content

Andre Schardong
Slobodan P. Simonovic

Abstract

Global Climate Models (GCMs) are currently the most powerful tools for accessing changes in the hydrological regime at the watershed scale due to climate change and variability. GCMs, however, have limitations due to their coarse spatial and temporal resolutions.  Regional Climate Models (RCMs) are often referred to as suitable alternatives due to their higher resolution of the long-term climate projections. It is expected that RCMs are better for simulating extreme conditions than the GCMs. This  present work, investigate the difference in updated IDF (Intensity-Duration-Frequency) relationships developed using GCMs and RCMs. The IDF updating method implemented with the IDF_CC tool for Canada has been used for comparison. The analyses are conducted using 369 selected Environment and Climate Change Canada hydro-meteorological stations from the IDF_CC tool database with record length longer than 20 years. Results for the future period (2020-2100), are based on multi-model ensembles of (i) the RCMs from the NA-CORDEX (North-American Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment) project (ensemble 1) (ii) a sub-set of six GCMs from the GCMs available in the IDF_CC tool used as drivers for the RCMs (ensemble 2) and (iii) all 24 GCMs from the IDF_CC tool database (ensemble 3). One representative concentration pathway (RCP), RCP 8.5, is used in the analysis. The RCMs from the NA-CORDEX project selected for this study use six GCMs as drivers to produce the future predictions for the North American continent, including Canada. Two metrics are applied for the comparison of results: (i) the difference in projected precipitation using the multi-model ensemble median; and (ii) the difference in uncertainty range. The uncertainty range is defined in this study as the percentage projected change in future, 25 to 75 quantiles obtained using the RCMs a GCMs ensembles. The regional models from the NA-CORDEX project generated lower extreme precipitation projections than the GCMs for the stations located in the Canadian prairies (provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba). Stations located at the East and West coasts of Canada show a smaller difference in the projected extremes obtained using GCMs and RCMs. The use of RCMs shows increase in uncertainty when compared to GCMs. This result indicates that even when using regional climate models, it’s advisable to extend the analyses and include as many as possible models from different climate centers.

Keywords:
Regional climate models, IDF curves, CORDEX project, precipitation extremes

Article Details

How to Cite
Schardong, A., & P. Simonovic, S. (2019). Application of Regional Climate Models for Updating Intensity-duration-frequency Curves under Climate Change. International Journal of Environment and Climate Change, 9(5), 311-330. https://doi.org/10.9734/ijecc/2019/v9i530117
Section
Original Research Article

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