Using MERRA, AMIP II, CMIP5 Outputs to Assess Actual and Potential Building Climate Zone Change and Variability From the Last 30 Years Through 2100

Friday, 19 December 2014
Paul W Stackhouse1, David J Westberg2, James M Hoell Jr2, William Chandler2 and Taiping Zhang2, (1)NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States, (2)Science Systems and Applications, Inc. Hampton, Hampton, VA, United States
In the US, residential and commercial building infrastructure combined consumes about 40% of total energy usage and emits about 39% of total CO2emission (DOE/EIA “Annual Energy Outlook 2013”). Thus, increasing the energy efficiency of buildings is paramount to reducing energy costs and emissions. Building codes, as used by local and state enforcement entities are typically tied to the dominant climate within an enforcement jurisdiction classified according to various climate zones. These climates zones are based upon a 30-year average of local surface observations and are developed by DOE and ASHRAE (formerly known as the American Society of Hearting, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers). A significant shortcoming of the methodology used in constructing such maps is the use of surface observations (located mainly near airports) that are unequally distributed and frequently have periods of missing data that need to be filled by various approximation schemes. This paper demonstrates the usefulness of using NASA’s Modern Era Retrospective-analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) atmospheric data assimilation to derive the ASHRAE climate zone maps and then using MERRA to define the last 30 years of variability in climate zones. These results show that there is a statistically significant increase in the area covered by warmer climate zones and some tendency for a reduction of area in colder climate zones that require longer time series to confirm. Using the uncertainties of the basic surface temperature and precipitation parameters from MERRA as determined by comparison to surface measurements, we first compare patterns and variability of ASHRAE climate zones from MERRA relative to present day climate model runs from AMIP simulations to establish baseline sensitivity. Based upon these results, we assess the variability of the ASHRAE climate zones according to CMIP runs through 2100 using an ensemble analysis that classifies model output changes by percentiles. Estimates of statistical significance are then compared to original model variability during the AMIP period. This work quantifies and tests for significance the changes seen in the various US regions that represent a potential contribution by NASA to the ongoing National Climate Assessment.