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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-359
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-359
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  14 Jul 2017

14 Jul 2017

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.

Impacts of spatial resolutions on projected changes in precipitation extremes: from site- to grid-scales

Jianfeng Li1, Thian Yew Gan2, Yongqin David Chen3,4, Qiang Zhang5,6,7, Zengyun Hu8,1, and Xihui Gu9,1 Jianfeng Li et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2W2
  • 3Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • 4Institute of Environment, Energy and Sustainability, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • 5State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • 6Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • 7State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • 8State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
  • 9School of Environmental Studies, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China

Abstract. Precipitation extremes are localized and spatially heterogeneous events. Magnitude of precipitation extreme p is expected to be spatial resolution dependent. Heavy precipitation extremes tend to be less intensive at coarser resolutions due to the averaging effect of the neighbouring less extreme events. Given the resolution dependent p, this study aims to investigate how spatial resolutions affect projected changes in precipitation extremes between future and historical periods, i.e. pfutphis, which is a commonly used metric in climate projections. Our results show that although p is sensitive to spatial resolutions, differences in pfutphis among various spatial resolutions are relatively small. Assessments of performances of GCMs in simulating p and pfutphis are conducted based on three commonly used strategies that account for differences in spatial resolutions between GCMs and observations, i.e. the site-scale, the grid-scale, and the grid-point (i.e. direct comparison of grid-against scale-extremes) comparisons. Performances of GCMs in the site-scale comparison outperform those in the grid-scale and grid-point comparisons, because the statistical downscaling method incorporates the site-scale information to the future values when downscaling the GCMs. Assessment results of the grid-point comparison are comparable to those of the grid-scale comparison, even though the former has been criticized for not accounting for the difference in spatial resolutions between GCMs and observations. The spatial distributions of pfutphis under RCP8.5 show that their differences between the site scale and the GCMs’ original resolutions are marginal. Given the considerable discrepancies among GCM outputs, the effects of spatial resolutions on projected changes are negligible.

Jianfeng Li et al.

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Jianfeng Li et al.

Jianfeng Li et al.

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Short summary
Precipitation extremes are localized and spatially heterogeneous events. Previous studies showed that estimation of magnitudes of extremes is sensitive to spatial resolutions. Our results show that projected changes in extremes between future and historical periods, a commonly used metric in climate projections, are insensitive to spatial resolutions. Given the considerable discrepancies among GCM outputs, the impacts of spatial resolutions on projected changes are negligible.
Precipitation extremes are localized and spatially heterogeneous events. Previous studies showed...
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