High-resolution Med-CORDEX regional climate model simulations for hydrological impact studies: a first evaluation of the ALADIN-Climate model in Morocco
Abstract. In the framework of the international CORDEX program, new regional climate model (RCM) simulations at high spatial resolutions are becoming available for the Mediterranean region (Med-CORDEX initiative). This study provides the first evaluation for hydrological impact studies of one of these high-resolution simulations in a 1800 km2 catchment located in North Morocco. Different approaches are compared to analyze the climate change impacts on the hydrology of this catchment using a high-resolution RCM (ALADIN-Climate) from the Med-CORDEX initiative at two different spatial resolutions (50 and 12 km) and for two different Radiative Concentration Pathway scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). The main issues addressed in the present study are: (i) what is the impact of increased RCM resolution on present-climate hydrological simulations and on future projections? (ii) Are the bias-correction of the RCM model and the parameters of the hydrological model stationary and transferable to different climatic conditions? (iii) What is the climate and hydrological change signal based on the new Radiative Concentration Pathways scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5)? Results indicate that high resolution simulations at 12 km better reproduce the seasonal patterns, the seasonal distributions and the extreme events of precipitation. The parameters of the hydrological model, calibrated to reproduce runoff at the monthly time step over the 1984–2010 period, do not show a strong variability between dry and wet calibration periods in a differential split-sample test. However the bias correction of precipitation by quantile-matching does not give satisfactory results in validation using the same differential split-sample testing method. Therefore a quantile-perturbation method that does not rely on any stationarity assumption and produces ensembles of perturbed series of precipitation was introduced. The climate change signal under scenarios 4.5 and 8.5 indicates a decrease of respectively −30 to −57% in surface runoff for the mid-term (2041–2062), when for the same period the projections for precipitation are ranging between −15 and −19% and for temperature between +1.3 and +1.9 °C.