Quantifying uncertainty due to internal variability using high-resolution regional climate model simulations

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Ethan D Gutmann1, Kyoko Ikeda1, Clara Deser2, Roy Rasmussen3, Martyn P Clark1 and J R Arnold4, (1)National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)NCAR, Boulder, CO, United States, (3)University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)US Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville, FL, United States
The uncertainty in future climate predictions is as large or larger than the mean climate change signal. As such, any predictions of future climate need to incorporate and quantify the sources of this uncertainty. One of the largest sources comes from the internal, chaotic, variability within the climate system itself. This variability has been approximated using the 30 ensemble members of the Community Earth System Model (CESM) large ensemble. Here we examine the wet and dry end members of this ensemble for cool-season precipitation in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with a set of high-resolution regional climate model simulations. We have used the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) to simulate the periods 1990-2000, 2025-2035, and 2070-2080 on a 4km grid. These simulations show that the broad patterns of change depicted in CESM are inherited by the high-resolution simulations; however, the differences in the height and location of the mountains in the WRF simulation, relative to the CESM simulation, means that the location and magnitude of the precipitation changes are very different. We further show that high-resolution simulations with the Intermediate Complexity Atmospheric Research model (ICAR) predict a similar spatial pattern in the change signal as WRF for these ensemble members. We then use ICAR to examine the rest of the CESM Large Ensemble as well as the uncertainty in the regional climate model due to the choice of physics parameterizations.