Statistical–dynamical downscaling of present day and future precipitation regimes in the Aksu river catchment in Central Asia
Reyers, M., Pinto, J. G. and Paeth, H. (2013) Statistical–dynamical downscaling of present day and future precipitation regimes in the Aksu river catchment in Central Asia. Global and Planetary Change, 107. pp. 36-49. ISSN 0921-8181
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2013.04.003
A statistical–dynamical downscaling (SDD) approach is applied to determine present day and future high-resolution rainfall distributions in the catchment of the river Aksu at the southern slopes of the Tienshan Mountains, Central Asia. First, a circulation weather type (CWT) classification is employed to define typical lower atmospheric flow regimes from ERA-40 reanalysis data. Selected representatives of each CWT are dynamically downscaled with the regional climate model COSMO-CLM 4.8 at a horizontal grid resolution of 0.0625°, using the ERA-40 reanalysis data as boundary conditions. Finally, the simulated representatives are recombined to obtain a high-resolution rainfall climatology for present day climate. The methodology is also applied to ensemble simulations of three different scenarios of the global climate model ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 to derive projections of rainfall changes until 2100. Comparisons of downscaled seasonal and annual rainfall with observational data suggest that the statistical–dynamical approach is appropriate to capture the observed present-day precipitation climatology over the low lands and the first elevations of the Tienshan Mountains. On the other hand, a strong bias is found at higher altitudes, where precipitation is clearly underestimated by SDD. The application of SDD to the ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 ensemble reveals that precipitation changes by the end of the 21st century depend on the season. While for autumn an increase of seasonal precipitation is found for all simulations, a decrease in precipitation is obtained during winter for most parts of the Aksu catchment. The spread between different ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 ensemble members is strongest in spring, where trends of opposite sign are found. The largest changes in rainfall are simulated for the summer season, which also shows the most pronounced spatial heterogeneity. Most ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 realizations indicate a decrease of annual precipitation over large parts of the Tienshan, and an increase restricted to the southeast of the study area. These results provide a good basis for downscaling present-day and future rainfall distributions for hydrological purposes.