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Evaluation of the AR4 Climate Models’ Simulated Daily Maximum Temperature, Minimum Temperature, and Precipitation over Australia Using Probability Density Functions

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  • 1 Department of Physical Geography, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • | 2 Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • | 3 Department of Physical Geography, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • | 4 Risk Frontiers Research Centre, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
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Abstract

The coupled climate models used in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are evaluated. The evaluation is focused on 12 regions of Australia for the daily simulation of precipitation, minimum temperature, and maximum temperature. The evaluation is based on probability density functions and a simple quantitative measure of how well each climate model can capture the observed probability density functions for each variable and each region is introduced. Across all three variables, the coupled climate models perform better than expected. Precipitation is simulated reasonably by most and very well by a small number of models, although the problem with excessive drizzle is apparent in most models. Averaged over Australia, 3 of the 14 climate models capture more than 80% of the observed probability density functions for precipitation. Minimum temperature is simulated well, with 10 of the 13 climate models capturing more than 80% of the observed probability density functions. Maximum temperature is also reasonably simulated with 6 of 10 climate models capturing more than 80% of the observed probability density functions. An overall ranking of the climate models, for each of precipitation, maximum, and minimum temperatures, and averaged over these three variables, is presented. Those climate models that are skillful over Australia are identified, providing guidance on those climate models that should be used in impacts assessments where those impacts are based on precipitation or temperature. These results have no bearing on how well these models work elsewhere, but the methodology is potentially useful in assessing which of the many climate models should be used by impacts groups.

Corresponding author address: Prof. A. J. Pitman, Climate Change Research Centre, Red Centre Building, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW, 2052, Australia. Email: a.pitman@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

The coupled climate models used in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are evaluated. The evaluation is focused on 12 regions of Australia for the daily simulation of precipitation, minimum temperature, and maximum temperature. The evaluation is based on probability density functions and a simple quantitative measure of how well each climate model can capture the observed probability density functions for each variable and each region is introduced. Across all three variables, the coupled climate models perform better than expected. Precipitation is simulated reasonably by most and very well by a small number of models, although the problem with excessive drizzle is apparent in most models. Averaged over Australia, 3 of the 14 climate models capture more than 80% of the observed probability density functions for precipitation. Minimum temperature is simulated well, with 10 of the 13 climate models capturing more than 80% of the observed probability density functions. Maximum temperature is also reasonably simulated with 6 of 10 climate models capturing more than 80% of the observed probability density functions. An overall ranking of the climate models, for each of precipitation, maximum, and minimum temperatures, and averaged over these three variables, is presented. Those climate models that are skillful over Australia are identified, providing guidance on those climate models that should be used in impacts assessments where those impacts are based on precipitation or temperature. These results have no bearing on how well these models work elsewhere, but the methodology is potentially useful in assessing which of the many climate models should be used by impacts groups.

Corresponding author address: Prof. A. J. Pitman, Climate Change Research Centre, Red Centre Building, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW, 2052, Australia. Email: a.pitman@unsw.edu.au

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