Calibrating Climate Change Time-Slice Projections with Estimates of Seasonal Forecast Reliability

M. Matsueda Center for Computational Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan and Department of Physics, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

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A. Weisheimer National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, United Kingdom

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T. N. Palmer National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

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Abstract

In earlier work, it was proposed that the reliability of climate change projections, particularly of regional rainfall, could be improved if such projections were calibrated using quantitative measures of reliability obtained by running the same model in seasonal forecast mode. This proposal is tested for fast atmospheric processes (such as clouds and convection) by considering output from versions of the same atmospheric general circulation model run at two different resolutions and forced with prescribed sea surface temperatures and sea ice. Here output from the high-resolution version of the model is treated as a proxy for truth. The reason for using this approach is simply that the twenty-first-century climate change signal is not yet known and, hence, no climate change projections can be verified using observations. Quantitative assessments of reliability of the low-resolution model, run in seasonal hindcast mode, are used to calibrate climate change time-slice projections made with the same low-resolution model. Results show that the calibrated climate change probabilities are closer to the proxy truth than the uncalibrated probabilities. Given that seasonal forecasts are performed operationally already at several centers around the world, in a seamless forecast system they provide a resource that can be used without cost to help calibrate climate change projections and make them more reliable for users.

Corresponding author address: Mio Matsueda, Center for Computational Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8577, Japan. E-mail: mio@ccs.tsukuba.ac.jp

Abstract

In earlier work, it was proposed that the reliability of climate change projections, particularly of regional rainfall, could be improved if such projections were calibrated using quantitative measures of reliability obtained by running the same model in seasonal forecast mode. This proposal is tested for fast atmospheric processes (such as clouds and convection) by considering output from versions of the same atmospheric general circulation model run at two different resolutions and forced with prescribed sea surface temperatures and sea ice. Here output from the high-resolution version of the model is treated as a proxy for truth. The reason for using this approach is simply that the twenty-first-century climate change signal is not yet known and, hence, no climate change projections can be verified using observations. Quantitative assessments of reliability of the low-resolution model, run in seasonal hindcast mode, are used to calibrate climate change time-slice projections made with the same low-resolution model. Results show that the calibrated climate change probabilities are closer to the proxy truth than the uncalibrated probabilities. Given that seasonal forecasts are performed operationally already at several centers around the world, in a seamless forecast system they provide a resource that can be used without cost to help calibrate climate change projections and make them more reliable for users.

Corresponding author address: Mio Matsueda, Center for Computational Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8577, Japan. E-mail: mio@ccs.tsukuba.ac.jp
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