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Retrospective Analysis and Bayesian Model Averaging of CMIP6 Precipitation in the Nile River Basin

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  • 1 Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California
  • 2 Department of Earth System Science, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California
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Abstract

The Nile River basin is one of the global hotspots vulnerable to climate change impacts because of a fast-growing population and geopolitical tensions. Previous studies demonstrated that general circulation models (GCMs) frequently show disagreement in the sign of change in annual precipitation projections. Here, we first evaluate the performance of 20 GCMs from phase six of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) benchmarked against a high-spatial-resolution precipitation dataset dating back to 1983 from Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information Using Artificial Neural Networks–Climate Data Record (PERSIANN-CDR). Next, a Bayesian model averaging (BMA) approach is adopted to derive probability distributions of precipitation projections in the Nile basin. Retrospective analysis reveals that most GCMs exhibit considerable (up to 64% of mean annual precipitation) and spatially heterogenous bias in simulating annual precipitation. Moreover, it is shown that all GCMs underestimate interannual variability; thus, the ensemble range is underdispersive and is a poor indicator of uncertainty. The projected changes from the BMA model show that the value and sign of change vary considerably across the Nile basin. Specifically, it is found that projected changes in the two headwaters basins, namely, the Blue Nile and Upper White Nile, are 0.03% and −1.65%, respectively; both are statistically insignificant at α = 0.05. The uncertainty range estimated from the BMA model shows that the probability of a precipitation decrease is much higher in the Upper White Nile basin whereas projected change in the Blue Nile is highly uncertain both in magnitude and sign of change.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Mohammed Ombadi, mombadi@uci.edu

Abstract

The Nile River basin is one of the global hotspots vulnerable to climate change impacts because of a fast-growing population and geopolitical tensions. Previous studies demonstrated that general circulation models (GCMs) frequently show disagreement in the sign of change in annual precipitation projections. Here, we first evaluate the performance of 20 GCMs from phase six of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) benchmarked against a high-spatial-resolution precipitation dataset dating back to 1983 from Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information Using Artificial Neural Networks–Climate Data Record (PERSIANN-CDR). Next, a Bayesian model averaging (BMA) approach is adopted to derive probability distributions of precipitation projections in the Nile basin. Retrospective analysis reveals that most GCMs exhibit considerable (up to 64% of mean annual precipitation) and spatially heterogenous bias in simulating annual precipitation. Moreover, it is shown that all GCMs underestimate interannual variability; thus, the ensemble range is underdispersive and is a poor indicator of uncertainty. The projected changes from the BMA model show that the value and sign of change vary considerably across the Nile basin. Specifically, it is found that projected changes in the two headwaters basins, namely, the Blue Nile and Upper White Nile, are 0.03% and −1.65%, respectively; both are statistically insignificant at α = 0.05. The uncertainty range estimated from the BMA model shows that the probability of a precipitation decrease is much higher in the Upper White Nile basin whereas projected change in the Blue Nile is highly uncertain both in magnitude and sign of change.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Mohammed Ombadi, mombadi@uci.edu
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