• GCM;
  • predictors;
  • regression;
  • scales;
  • temperature;
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In this paper, downscaling models are developed using various linear regression approaches, namely direct, forward, backward and stepwise regression, for obtaining projections of mean monthly maximum and minimum temperatures (Tmax and Tmin) to lake-basin scale in an arid region in India. The effectiveness of these regression approaches is evaluated through application to downscale the predictands for the Pichola lake region in the state of Rajasthan in India, which is considered to be a climatically sensitive region. The predictor variables are extracted from (i) the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis dataset for the period 1948–2000 and (ii) the simulations from the third-generation Canadian Coupled Global Climate Model (CGCM3) for emission scenarios A1B, A2, B1 and COMMIT for the period 2001–2100. The selection of important predictor variables becomes a crucial issue for developing downscaling models as reanalysis data are based on a wide range of meteorological measurements and observations. A simple multiplicative shift was used for correcting predictand values. Direct regression was found to yield better performance among all other regression techniques for the training data set, while the forward regression technique performed better in the validation data set, explored in the present study. For trend analysis, the Mann–Kendall non-parametric test was performed. The results of downscaling models show that an increasing trend is observed for Tmax and Tmin for A1B, A2 and B1 scenarios, whereas no trend is discerned with the COMMIT scenario by using predictors. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.