A comparison of CMIP3 simulations of precipitation over north america with observations: Daily statistics and circulation features accompanying extreme events

Anthony M. DeAngelis, anthony J. Broccoli, Steven G. Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Climate model simulations of daily precipitation statistics from the third phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3) were evaluated against precipitation observations from North America over the period 1979-99. The evaluation revealed that the models underestimate the intensity of heavy and extreme precipitation along the Pacific coast, southeastern United States, and southernMexico, and these biases are robust among themodels. Themodels also overestimate the intensity of light precipitation events overmuch of NorthAmerica, resulting in fairly realisticmean precipitation inmany places. In contrast, heavy precipitation is simulated realistically over northern and eastern Canada, as is the seasonal cycle of heavy precipitation over a majority of North America. An evaluation of the simulated atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics associatedwith extreme precipitation events was also conducted using the NorthAmericanRegionalReanalysis (NARR). The models were found to capture the large-scale physical mechanisms that generate extreme precipitation realistically, although they tend to overestimate the strength of the associated atmospheric circulation features. This suggests that climate model deficiencies such as insufficient spatial resolution, inadequate representation of convective precipitation, and overly smoothed topography may be more important for biases in simulated heavy precipitation than errors in the large-scale circulation during extreme events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3209-3230
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume26
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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