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Philipp de Vrese and Stefan Hagemann

Abstract

In present-day Earth system models, the coupling of land surface and atmosphere is based on simplistic assumptions. Often the heterogeneous land surface is represented by a set of effective parameters valid for an entire model grid box. Other models assume that the surface fluxes become horizontally homogeneous at the lowest atmospheric model level. For heterogeneity above a certain horizontal length scale this is not the case, resulting in spatial subgrid-scale variability in the fluxes and in the state of the atmosphere. The Max Planck Institute for Meteorology’s Earth System Model is used with three different coupling schemes to assess the importance of the representation of spatial heterogeneity at the land surface as well as within the atmosphere. Simulations show that the land surface–atmosphere coupling distinctly influences the simulated near-surface processes with respect to different land-cover types. The representation of heterogeneity also has a distinct impact on the simulated gridbox mean state and fluxes in a large fraction of land surface.

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Stefan Hagemann, Klaus Arpe, and Erich Roeckner

Abstract

This study investigates the impact of model resolution on the hydrological cycle in a suite of model simulations using a new version of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM). Special attention is paid to the evaluation of precipitation on the regional scale by comparing model simulations with observational data in a number of catchments representing the major river systems on the earth in different climate zones. It is found that an increased vertical resolution, from 19 to 31 atmospheric layers, has a beneficial effect on simulated precipitation with respect to both the annual mean and the annual cycle. On the other hand, the influence of increased horizontal resolution, from T63 to T106, is comparatively small. Most of the improvements at higher vertical resolution, on the scale of a catchment, are due to large-scale moisture transport, whereas the impact of local water recycling through evapotranspiration is somewhat smaller. At high horizontal and vertical resolution (T106L31) the model captures most features of the observed hydrological cycle over land, and also the local and remote precipitation response to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events.

Major deficiencies are the overestimation of precipitation over the oceans, especially at higher vertical resolution, along steep mountain slopes and during the Asian summer monsoon season, whereas a dry bias exists over Australia. In addition, the model fails to reproduce the observed precipitation response to ENSO variability in the Indian Ocean and Africa. This might be related to missing coupled air–sea feedbacks in an AGCM forced with observed sea surface temperatures.

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Christel Prudhomme, Simon Parry, Jamie Hannaford, Douglas B. Clark, Stefan Hagemann, and Frank Voss

Abstract

This paper presents a new methodology for assessing the ability of gridded hydrological models to reproduce large-scale hydrological high and low flow events (as a proxy for hydrological extremes) as described by catalogues of historical droughts [using the regional deficiency index (RDI)] and high flows [regional flood index (RFI)] previously derived from river flow measurements across Europe. Using the same methods, total runoff simulated by three global hydrological models from the Water Model Intercomparison Project (WaterMIP) [Joint U.K. Land Environment Simulator (JULES), Water Global Assessment and Prognosis (WaterGAP), and Max Planck Institute Hydrological Model (MPI-HM)] run with the same meteorological input (watch forcing data) at the same spatial 0.5° grid was used to calculate simulated RDI and RFI for the period 1963–2001 in the same European regions, directly comparable with the observed catalogues. Observed and simulated RDI and RFI time series were compared using three performance measures: the relative mean error, the ratio between the standard deviation of simulated over observed series, and the Spearman correlation coefficient. Results show that all models can broadly reproduce the spatiotemporal evolution of hydrological extremes in Europe to varying degrees. JULES tends to produce prolonged, highly spatially coherent events for both high and low flows, with events developing more slowly and reaching and sustaining greater spatial coherence than observed—this could be due to runoff being dominated by slow-responding subsurface flow. In contrast, MPI-HM shows very high variability in the simulated RDI and RFI time series and a more rapid onset of extreme events than observed, in particular for regions with significant water storage capacity—this could be due to possible underrepresentation of infiltration and groundwater storage, with soil saturation reached too quickly. WaterGAP shares some of the issues of variability with MPI-HM—also attributed to insufficient soil storage capacity and surplus effective precipitation being generated as surface runoff—and some strong spatial coherence of simulated events with JULES, but neither of these are dominant. Of the three global models considered here, WaterGAP is arguably best suited to reproduce most regional characteristics of large-scale high and low flow events in Europe. Some systematic weaknesses emerge in all models, in particular for high flows, which could be a product of poor spatial resolution of the input climate data (e.g., where extreme precipitation is driven by local convective storms) or topography. Overall, this study has demonstrated that RDI and RFI are powerful tools that can be used to assess how well large-scale hydrological models reproduce large-scale hydrological extremes—an exercise rarely undertaken in model intercomparisons.

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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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Bart van den Hurk, Martin Hirschi, Christoph Schär, Geert Lenderink, Erik van Meijgaard, Aad van Ulden, Burkhardt Rockel, Stefan Hagemann, Phil Graham, Erik Kjellström, and Richard Jones

Abstract

Simulations with seven regional climate models driven by a common control climate simulation of a GCM carried out for Europe in the context of the (European Union) EU-funded Prediction of Regional scenarios and Uncertainties for Defining European Climate change risks and Effects (PRUDENCE) project were analyzed with respect to land surface hydrology in the Rhine basin. In particular, the annual cycle of the terrestrial water storage was compared to analyses based on the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) atmospheric convergence and observed Rhine discharge data. In addition, an analysis was made of the partitioning of convergence anomalies over anomalies in runoff and storage. This analysis revealed that most models underestimate the size of the water storage and consequently overestimated the response of runoff to anomalies in net convergence. The partitioning of these anomalies over runoff and storage was indicative for the response of the simulated runoff to a projected climate change consistent with the greenhouse gas A2 Synthesis Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES). In particular, the annual cycle of runoff is affected largely by the terrestrial storage reservoir. Larger storage capacity leads to smaller changes in both wintertime and summertime monthly mean runoff. The sustained summertime evaporation resulting from larger storage reservoirs may have a noticeable impact on the summertime surface temperature projections.

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Philippe Lucas-Picher, Jens H. Christensen, Fahad Saeed, Pankaj Kumar, Shakeel Asharaf, Bodo Ahrens, Andrew J. Wiltshire, Daniela Jacob, and Stefan Hagemann

Abstract

The ability of four regional climate models (RCMs) to represent the Indian monsoon was verified in a consistent framework for the period 1981–2000 using the 45-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40) as lateral boundary forcing data. During the monsoon period, the RCMs are able to capture the spatial distribution of precipitation with a maximum over the central and west coast of India, but with important biases at the regional scale on the east coast of India in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Most models are too warm in the north of India compared to the observations. This has an impact on the simulated mean sea level pressure from the RCMs, being in general too low compared to ERA-40. Those biases perturb the land–sea temperature and pressure contrasts that drive the monsoon dynamics and, as a consequence, lead to an overestimation of wind speed, especially over the sea. The timing of the monsoon onset of the RCMs is in good agreement with the one obtained from observationally based gridded datasets, while the monsoon withdrawal is less well simulated. A Hovmöller diagram representation of the mean annual cycle of precipitation reveals that the meridional motion of the precipitation simulated by the RCMs is comparable to the one observed, but the precipitation amounts and the regional distribution differ substantially between the four RCMs. In summary, the spread at the regional scale between the RCMs indicates that important feedbacks and processes are poorly, or not, taken into account in the state-of-the-art regional climate models.

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Richard Harding, Martin Best, Eleanor Blyth, Stefan Hagemann, Pavel Kabat, Lena M. Tallaksen, Tanya Warnaars, David Wiberg, Graham P. Weedon, Henny van Lanen, Fulco Ludwig, and Ingjerd Haddeland

Abstract

Water-related impacts are among the most important consequences of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Changes in the global water cycle will also impact the carbon and nutrient cycles and vegetation patterns. There is already some evidence of increasing severity of floods and droughts and increasing water scarcity linked to increasing greenhouse gases. So far, however, the most important impacts on water resources are the direct interventions by humans, such as dams, water extractions, and river channel modifications. The Water and Global Change (WATCH) project is a major international initiative to bring together climate and water scientists to better understand the current and future water cycle. This paper summarizes the underlying motivation for the WATCH project and the major results from a series of papers published or soon to be published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology WATCH special collection. At its core is the Water Model Intercomparison Project (WaterMIP), which brings together a wide range of global hydrological and land surface models run with consistent driving data. It is clear that we still have considerable uncertainties in the future climate drivers and in how the river systems will respond to these changes. There is a grand challenge to the hydrological and climate communities to both reduce these uncertainties and communicate them to a wider society.

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Alexis Berg, Benjamin R. Lintner, Kirsten Findell, Sonia I. Seneviratne, Bart van den Hurk, Agnès Ducharne, Frédérique Chéruy, Stefan Hagemann, David M. Lawrence, Sergey Malyshev, Arndt Meier, and Pierre Gentine

Abstract

Widespread negative correlations between summertime-mean temperatures and precipitation over land regions are a well-known feature of terrestrial climate. This behavior has generally been interpreted in the context of soil moisture–atmosphere coupling, with soil moisture deficits associated with reduced rainfall leading to enhanced surface sensible heating and higher surface temperature. The present study revisits the genesis of these negative temperature–precipitation correlations using simulations from the Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment–phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (GLACE-CMIP5) multimodel experiment. The analyses are based on simulations with five climate models, which were integrated with prescribed (noninteractive) and with interactive soil moisture over the period 1950–2100. While the results presented here generally confirm the interpretation that negative correlations between seasonal temperature and precipitation arise through the direct control of soil moisture on surface heat flux partitioning, the presence of widespread negative correlations when soil moisture–atmosphere interactions are artificially removed in at least two out of five models suggests that atmospheric processes, in addition to land surface processes, contribute to the observed negative temperature–precipitation correlation. On longer time scales, the negative correlation between precipitation and temperature is shown to have implications for the projection of climate change impacts on near-surface climate: in all models, in the regions of strongest temperature–precipitation anticorrelation on interannual time scales, long-term regional warming is modulated to a large extent by the regional response of precipitation to climate change, with precipitation increases (decreases) being associated with minimum (maximum) warming. This correspondence appears to arise largely as the result of soil moisture–atmosphere interactions.

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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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