Articles | Volume 15, issue 3
Research article
28 Mar 2011
Research article |  | 28 Mar 2011

Climate model bias correction and the role of timescales

J. O. Haerter, S. Hagemann, C. Moseley, and C. Piani

Abstract. It is well known that output from climate models cannot be used to force hydrological simulations without some form of preprocessing to remove the existing biases. In principle, statistical bias correction methodologies act on model output so the statistical properties of the corrected data match those of the observations. However, the improvements to the statistical properties of the data are limited to the specific timescale of the fluctuations that are considered. For example, a statistical bias correction methodology for mean daily temperature values might be detrimental to monthly statistics. Also, in applying bias corrections derived from present day to scenario simulations, an assumption is made on the stationarity of the bias over the largest timescales. First, we point out several conditions that have to be fulfilled by model data to make the application of a statistical bias correction meaningful. We then examine the effects of mixing fluctuations on different timescales and suggest an alternative statistical methodology, referred to here as a cascade bias correction method, that eliminates, or greatly reduces, the negative effects.