Clair R. Barnes, Richard E. Chandler, Christopher M. Brierley

A Comparison of Regional Climate Projections With a Range of Climate Sensitivities

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics

AbstractTo investigate the extent to which differences in regional model projections can be explained by differences in the warming rates of their driving models, we compare projections of temperature and precipitation over the UK from two regional climate ensembles—the EuroCORDEX multi‐model ensemble and UKCP18 perturbed parameter ensemble—along with projections produced by the “parent” GCMs from which boundary conditions were taken. We evaluate the ensembles in terms of their representation of recent climate, then compare the changes simulated between 1981–2010 and 2050–2079. While both ensembles exhibit seasonal biases with similar magnitudes and spatial patterns during the evaluation period, the UKCP18 ensemble exhibits a somewhat stronger change signal in future simulations, due to a combination of higher climate sensitivity of the driving models, variations in the forcings applied, and—in the regional simulations—the inclusion of time‐varying aerosols. In order to reconcile the two sets of projections, we compare two periods corresponding to fixed global warming levels in the driving models, to constrain the variability within and between the ensembles which can be ascribed to differing rates of global warming: the discrepancy between the ensembles is greatly reduced, although some differences in the local response remain, with the UKCP18 runs slightly warmer and drier than the EuroCORDEX runs, particularly in summer. We also highlight potential pitfalls of comparing warming levels with a reference time period, due to uncertainty about the warming that has already occurred in the driving models prior to the reference period.

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