Significance of Bias Correction in Drought Frequency and Scenario Analysis Based on Climate Models

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Yog Aryal and Jianting Zhu, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States
Assessment of future drought characteristics is difficult as climate models usually have bias in simulating precipitation frequency and intensity. To overcome this limitation, output from climate models need to be bias corrected based on the specific purpose of applications. In this study, we examine the significance of bias correction in the context of drought frequency and scenario analysis using output from climate models. In particular, we investigate the performance of three widely used bias correction techniques: (1) monthly bias correction (MBC), (2) nested bias correction (NBC), and (3) equidistance quantile mapping (EQM) The effect of bias correction in future scenario of drought frequency is also analyzed. The characteristics of drought are investigated in terms of frequency and severity in nine representative locations in different climatic regions across the United States using regional climate model (RCM) output from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP). The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) is used as the means to compare and forecast drought characteristics at different timescales. Systematic biases in the RCM precipitation output are corrected against the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) data. The results demonstrate that bias correction significantly decreases the RCM errors in reproducing drought frequency derived from the NARR data. Preserving mean and standard deviation is essential for climate models in drought frequency analysis. RCM biases both have regional and timescale dependence. Different timescale of input precipitation in the bias corrections show similar results. Drought frequency obtained from the RCM future (2040-2070) scenarios is compared with that from the historical simulations. The changes in drought characteristics occur in all climatic regions. The relative changes in drought frequency in future scenario in relation to historical simulations when both scenarios (historical and future) are bias corrected are similar to when both are not bias corrected. Our study show that the potential changes in drought frequency vary from +51 % to -57 %.