Added value in regional climate modeling

Type: Scientific Article
Reference: Author: Markku Rummukainen WIREs Climate Change, 7, 145-159


Regional climate modeling is a dynamical downscaling technique applied to the results of global climate models (GCMs) in order to acquire more information on climate simulations and climate change projections. GCMs and regional climate models (RCMs) have undergone considerable development over the past few
decades, and both have increased in resolution. The higher-resolution edge of RCMs compared to GCMs still remains, however. This has been demonstrated in a number of specific studies. As GCMs operate on relatively coarse resolutions, they do not resolve more variable land forms and similar features that shape regional-scale climates. RCMs operate on higher resolutions than GCMs, by a factor of 2–10. Some RCMs now explore resolutions down to 1–5 km. This
adds value in regions with variable orography, land–sea and other contrasts, as well as in capturing sharp, short-duration and extreme events. In contrast, largescale and time-averaged fields, not least over smooth terrain and on scales that have been already skillfully resolved in GCMs, are not much affected. RCMs also generate additional detail compared to GCMs when in climate projection mode.
Compared to the present-day climate for which observations exist, here the added value aspect is more complex to evaluate. Nevertheless, added value is meaningfully underlined when there is a clear physical context for it to appear in. In addition to climate modeling and model evaluation-related added value
considerations, a significant relevant aspect of added value is the provision of regional scale information, including climate change projections, for climate impact, adaptation, and vulnerability research.