The utility of daily large-scale climate data in the assessment of climate change impacts on daily streamflow in California
- 1Civil Engineering Dept., Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA, USA
- 2Escuela de Física, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica
- 3Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, USA
- 4US Geological Survey, Water Resources Division, La Jolla, CA, USA
Abstract. Three statistical downscaling methods were applied to NCEP/NCAR reanalysis (used as a surrogate for the best possible general circulation model), and the downscaled meteorology was used to drive a hydrologic model over California. The historic record was divided into an "observed" period of 1950–1976 to provide the basis for downscaling, and a "projected" period of 1977–1999 for assessing skill. The downscaling methods included a bias-correction/spatial downscaling method (BCSD), which relies solely on monthly large scale meteorology and resamples the historical record to obtain daily sequences, a constructed analogues approach (CA), which uses daily large-scale anomalies, and a hybrid method (BCCA) using a quantile-mapping bias correction on the large-scale data prior to the CA approach. At 11 sites we compared three simulated daily flow statistics: streamflow timing, 3-day peak flow, and 7-day low flow. While all downscaling methods produced reasonable streamflow statistics at most locations, the BCCA method consistently outperformed the other methods, capturing the daily large-scale skill and translating it to simulated streamflows that more skillfully reproduced observationally-driven streamflows.