Evaluation of Cool Season Precipitation Event Characteristics Over the Northeast US in a Suite of Downscaled Climate Model Hindcasts

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Climate Dynamics

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Cool season precipitation event characteristics are evaluated across a suite of downscaled climate models over the northeastern US. Downscaled hindcast simulations are produced by dynamically downscaling the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA2) using the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) regional climate model (RCM) and the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5) global climate model. NU-WRF RCM simulations are produced at 24, 12, and 4-km horizontal resolutions using a range of spectral nudging schemes while the MERRA2 global downscaled run is provided at 12.5-km. All model runs are evaluated using four metrics designed to capture key features of precipitation events: event frequency, event intensity, even total, and event duration. Overall, the downscaling approaches result in a reasonable representation of many of the key features of precipitation events over the region, however considerable biases exist in the magnitude of each metric. Based on this evaluation there is no clear indication that higher resolution simulations result in more realistic results in general, however many small-scale features such as orographic enhancement of precipitation are only captured at higher resolutions suggesting some added value over coarser resolution. While the differences between simulations produced using nudging and no nudging are small, there is some improvement in model fidelity when nudging is introduced, especially at a cutoff wavelength of 600 km compared to 2000 km. Based on the results of this evaluation, dynamical regional downscaling using NU-WRF results in a more realistic representation of precipitation event climatology than the global downscaling of MERRA2 using GEOS-5.



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