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Partitioning climate projection uncertainty with multiple large ensembles and CMIP5/6

Lehner, F., Deser, C., Maher, N., Marotzke, J., Fischer, E. M., Brunner, L., Knutti, R. and Hawkins, E. (2020) Partitioning climate projection uncertainty with multiple large ensembles and CMIP5/6. Earth System Dynamics, 11 (2). pp. 491-508. ISSN 2190-4987

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/esd-11-491-2020


Partitioning uncertainty in projections of future climate change into contributions from internal variability, model response uncertainty and emissions scenarios has historically relied on making assumptions about forced changes in the mean and variability. With the advent of multiple single-model initial-condition large ensembles (SMILEs), these assumptions can be scrutinized, as they allow a more robust separation between sources of uncertainty. Here, the framework from Hawkins and Sutton (2009) for uncertainty partitioning is revisited for temperature and precipitation projections using seven SMILEs and the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project CMIP5 and CMIP6 archives. The original approach is shown to work well at global scales (potential method bias < 20 %), while at local to regional scales such as British Isles temperature or Sahel precipitation, there is a notable potential method bias (up to 50 %), and more accurate partitioning of uncertainty is achieved through the use of SMILEs. Whenever internal variability and forced changes therein are important, the need to evaluate and improve the representation of variability in models is evident. The available SMILEs are shown to be a good representation of the CMIP5 model diversity in many situations, making them a useful tool for interpreting CMIP5. CMIP6 often shows larger absolute and relative model uncertainty than CMIP5, although part of this difference can be reconciled with the higher average transient climate response in CMIP6. This study demonstrates the added value of a collection of SMILEs for quantifying and diagnosing uncertainty in climate projections.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:91718
Publisher:European Geosciences Union


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