Rilka Valcheva, Ivan Popov, Nikola Gerganov

Convection-Permitting Future Climate Simulations for Bulgaria under the RCP8.5 Scenario

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

In recent decades, climate change has become a critical global issue with far-reaching consequences for regional climates and ecosystems. While regional climate models provide valuable information, there is a growing need for high-resolution simulations to assess local impacts. This paper addresses this gap by presenting the first simulation of a 3 km convection-permitting (CP) scenario simulation for Bulgaria. The main aim of this study is to assess different precipitation indices and their future changes for Bulgaria under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario following the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment Flagship Pilot Study protocol. The simulations are evaluated against high-resolution observations. We downscale Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 Global Climate Model (CMIP5 GCM) data for historical (1995–2004) and future (2089–2098) periods using a regional climate model (RCM) at 15 km grid spacing and parametrized convection. We use these fields as initial and boundary conditions for convection-permitting kilometer-scale simulations. The 15 km grid spacing driving model is used as a reference to assess the added value of the kilometer-scale simulation. Additionally, the 3 km seasonal mean and projected 2 m temperature and the winter snow water equivalent are presented. The results show that the kilometer-scale simulation shows better performance of wet-hour intensity in all seasons, wet-hour frequency in the spring, fall, and winter, and extreme precipitation (99.9th percentile of all precipitation events, p99.9) in the winter and fall. The kilometer-scale simulation improves the projected precipitation distribution and modifies the signal of the precipitation frequency, intensity, and heavy precipitation change over some areas. A positive projected change in the wet-hour intensity is expected in all seasons (13.86% in spring, MAM, 17.48% in summer, JJA, 1.97% in fall, SON, and 17.43% in winter, DJF) and in the heavy precipitation in the spring (13.14%) and winter (31.19%) in the kilometer-scale experiment. The projected increase in mean winter precipitation is accompanied by a significant decrease in mean winter snowfall over lowlands (50−70%). The convection-permitting Regional Climate Model, version 4.7.1 (RegCM4.7.1) suggests an increase in winter snowfall over the highest parts of the country, but a significant increase in the 2 m temperatures there. The results of this study are encouraging and may be of interest to the community of climate scientists and users of climate data for making reliable estimates of the local impacts of future climate change.

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