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Empirical Downscaling of High-Resolution Regional Precipitation from Large-Scale Reanalysis Fields

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  • 1 University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

This study describes an EOF-based technique for statistical downscaling of high-spatial-resolution monthly-mean precipitation from large-scale reanalysis circulation fields. The method is demonstrated and evaluated for four widely separated locations: the southeastern United States, the upper Colorado River basin, China’s Jiangxi Province, and central Europe. For each location, the EOF-based downscaling models successfully reproduce the observed annual cycle while eliminating the biases seen in NCEP–NCAR reanalysis precipitation. They also frequently reproduce the monthly precipitation anomalies with greater fidelity than is seen in the precipitation field derived directly from reanalysis, and they outperform a suite of regional climate models over the two U.S. locations. With the relatively high skill achieved over a range of climate regimes, this technique may be a viable alternative to numerical downscaling of monthly-mean precipitation for many locations.

Current affiliation: Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.

Corresponding author address: Robert E. Nicholas, Dept. of Geosciences, Deike Bldg., The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802. E-mail: rob.nicholas@psu.edu

Abstract

This study describes an EOF-based technique for statistical downscaling of high-spatial-resolution monthly-mean precipitation from large-scale reanalysis circulation fields. The method is demonstrated and evaluated for four widely separated locations: the southeastern United States, the upper Colorado River basin, China’s Jiangxi Province, and central Europe. For each location, the EOF-based downscaling models successfully reproduce the observed annual cycle while eliminating the biases seen in NCEP–NCAR reanalysis precipitation. They also frequently reproduce the monthly precipitation anomalies with greater fidelity than is seen in the precipitation field derived directly from reanalysis, and they outperform a suite of regional climate models over the two U.S. locations. With the relatively high skill achieved over a range of climate regimes, this technique may be a viable alternative to numerical downscaling of monthly-mean precipitation for many locations.

Current affiliation: Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.

Corresponding author address: Robert E. Nicholas, Dept. of Geosciences, Deike Bldg., The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802. E-mail: rob.nicholas@psu.edu
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