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Stefan Hagemann, Cui Chen, Jan O. Haerter, Jens Heinke, Dieter Gerten, and Claudio Piani

Abstract

Future climate model scenarios depend crucially on the models’ adequate representation of the hydrological cycle. Within the EU integrated project Water and Global Change (WATCH), special care is taken to use state-of-the-art climate model output for impacts assessments with a suite of hydrological models. This coupling is expected to lead to a better assessment of changes in the hydrological cycle. However, given the systematic errors of climate models, their output is often not directly applicable as input for hydrological models. Thus, the methodology of a statistical bias correction has been developed for correcting climate model output to produce long-term time series with a statistical intensity distribution close to that of the observations. As observations, global reanalyzed daily data of precipitation and temperature were used that were obtained in the WATCH project. Daily time series from three GCMs (GCMs) ECHAM5/Max Planck Institute Ocean Model (MPI-OM), Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques Coupled GCM, version 3 (CNRM-CM3), and the atmospheric component of the L’Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace Coupled Model, version 4 (IPSL CM4) coupled model (called LMDZ-4)—were bias corrected. After the validation of the bias-corrected data, the original and the bias-corrected GCM data were used to force two global hydrology models (GHMs): 1) the hydrological model of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-HM) consisting of the simplified land surface (SL) scheme and the hydrological discharge (HD) model, and 2) the dynamic global vegetation model called LPJmL. The impact of the bias correction on the projected simulated hydrological changes is analyzed, and the simulation results of the two GHMs are compared. Here, the projected changes in 2071–2100 are considered relative to 1961–90. It is shown for both GHMs that the usage of bias-corrected GCM data leads to an improved simulation of river runoff for most catchments. But it is also found that the bias correction has an impact on the climate change signal for specific locations and months, thereby identifying another level of uncertainty in the modeling chain from the GCM to the simulated changes calculated by the GHMs. This uncertainty may be of the same order of magnitude as uncertainty related to the choice of the GCM or GHM. Note that this uncertainty is primarily attached to the GCM and only becomes obvious by applying the statistical bias correction methodology.

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Lukas Gudmundsson, Lena M. Tallaksen, Kerstin Stahl, Douglas B. Clark, Egon Dumont, Stefan Hagemann, Nathalie Bertrand, Dieter Gerten, Jens Heinke, Naota Hanasaki, Frank Voss, and Sujan Koirala

Abstract

Large-scale hydrological models describing the terrestrial water balance at continental and global scales are increasingly being used in earth system modeling and climate impact assessments. However, because of incomplete process understanding and limits of the forcing data, model simulations remain uncertain. To quantify this uncertainty a multimodel ensemble of nine large-scale hydrological models was compared to observed runoff from 426 small catchments in Europe. The ensemble was built within the framework of the European Union Water and Global Change (WATCH) project. The models were driven with the same atmospheric forcing data. Models were evaluated with respect to their ability to capture the interannual variability of spatially aggregated annual time series of five runoff percentiles—derived from daily time series—including annual low and high flows. Overall, the models capture the interannual variability of low, mean, and high flows well. However, errors in the mean and standard deviation, as well as differences in performance between the models, became increasingly pronounced for low runoff percentiles, reflecting the uncertainty associated with the representation of hydrological processes, such as the depletion of soil moisture stores. The large spread in model performance implies that any single model should be applied with caution as there is a great risk of biased conclusions. However, this large spread is contrasted by the good overall performance of the ensemble mean. It is concluded that the ensemble mean is a pragmatic and reliable estimator of spatially aggregated time series of annual low, mean, and high flows across Europe.

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Ingjerd Haddeland, Douglas B. Clark, Wietse Franssen, Fulco Ludwig, Frank Voß, Nigel W. Arnell, Nathalie Bertrand, Martin Best, Sonja Folwell, Dieter Gerten, Sandra Gomes, Simon N. Gosling, Stefan Hagemann, Naota Hanasaki, Richard Harding, Jens Heinke, Pavel Kabat, Sujan Koirala, Taikan Oki, Jan Polcher, Tobias Stacke, Pedro Viterbo, Graham P. Weedon, and Pat Yeh

Abstract

Six land surface models and five global hydrological models participate in a model intercomparison project [Water Model Intercomparison Project (WaterMIP)], which for the first time compares simulation results of these different classes of models in a consistent way. In this paper, the simulation setup is described and aspects of the multimodel global terrestrial water balance are presented. All models were run at 0.5° spatial resolution for the global land areas for a 15-yr period (1985–99) using a newly developed global meteorological dataset. Simulated global terrestrial evapotranspiration, excluding Greenland and Antarctica, ranges from 415 to 586 mm yr−1 (from 60 000 to 85 000 km3 yr−1), and simulated runoff ranges from 290 to 457 mm yr−1 (from 42 000 to 66 000 km3 yr−1). Both the mean and median runoff fractions for the land surface models are lower than those of the global hydrological models, although the range is wider. Significant simulation differences between land surface and global hydrological models are found to be caused by the snow scheme employed. The physically based energy balance approach used by land surface models generally results in lower snow water equivalent values than the conceptual degree-day approach used by global hydrological models. Some differences in simulated runoff and evapotranspiration are explained by model parameterizations, although the processes included and parameterizations used are not distinct to either land surface models or global hydrological models. The results show that differences between models are a major source of uncertainty. Climate change impact studies thus need to use not only multiple climate models but also some other measure of uncertainty (e.g., multiple impact models).

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