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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 19, issue 1
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 361–377, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-361-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 361–377, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-361-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 21 Jan 2015

Research article | 21 Jan 2015

Assessment of precipitation and temperature data from CMIP3 global climate models for hydrologic simulation

T. A. McMahon1, M. C. Peel1, and D. J. Karoly2 T. A. McMahon et al.
  • 1Department of Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne, Victoria, 3010, Australia
  • 2School of Earth Sciences and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of Melbourne, Victoria, 3010, Australia

Abstract. The objective of this paper is to identify better performing Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) global climate models (GCMs) that reproduce grid-scale climatological statistics of observed precipitation and temperature for input to hydrologic simulation over global land regions. Current assessments are aimed mainly at examining the performance of GCMs from a climatology perspective and not from a hydrology standpoint. The performance of each GCM in reproducing the precipitation and temperature statistics was ranked and better performing GCMs identified for later analyses. Observed global land surface precipitation and temperature data were drawn from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) 3.10 gridded data set and re-sampled to the resolution of each GCM for comparison. Observed and GCM-based estimates of mean and standard deviation of annual precipitation, mean annual temperature, mean monthly precipitation and temperature and Köppen–Geiger climate type were compared. The main metrics for assessing GCM performance were the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) index and root mean square error (RMSE) between modelled and observed long-term statistics. This information combined with a literature review of the performance of the CMIP3 models identified the following better performing GCMs from a hydrologic perspective: HadCM3 (Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research), MIROCm (Model for Interdisciplinary Research on Climate) (Center for Climate System Research (The University of Tokyo), National Institute for Environmental Studies, and Frontier Research Center for Global Change), MIUB (Meteorological Institute of the University of Bonn, Meteorological Research Institute of KMA, and Model and Data group), MPI (Max Planck Institute for Meteorology) and MRI (Japan Meteorological Research Institute). The future response of these GCMs was found to be representative of the 44 GCM ensemble members which confirms that the selected GCMs are reasonably representative of the range of future GCM projections.

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Here we assess GCM performance from a hydrologic perspective. We identify five better performing CMIP3 GCMs that reproduce grid-scale climatological statistics of observed precipitation and temperature over global land regions for future hydrologic simulation. GCM performance in reproducing observed mean and standard deviation of annual precipitation, mean annual temperature and mean monthly precipitation and temperature was assessed and ranked, and five better performing GCMs were identified.
Here we assess GCM performance from a hydrologic perspective. We identify five better performing...
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