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Keywords:

  • CMIP5;
  • Pacific Northwest;
  • 20th century;
  • empirical orthogonal function

Abstract

[1] Monthly temperature and precipitation data from 41 global climate models (GCMs) of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) were compared to observations for the 20th century, with a focus on the United States Pacific Northwest (PNW) and surrounding region. A suite of statistics, or metrics, was calculated, that included correlation and variance of mean seasonal spatial patterns, amplitude of seasonal cycle, diurnal temperature range, annual- to decadal-scale variance, long-term persistence, and regional teleconnections to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Performance, or credibility, was assessed based on the GCMs' abilities to reproduce the observed metrics. GCMs were ranked in their credibility using two methods. The first simply treated all metrics equally. The second method considered two properties of the metrics: (1) redundancy of information (dependence) among metrics, and (2) confidence in the reliability of an individual metric for accurately ranking models. Confidence was related to how robust the estimate of the metric was to ensemble size, given that for most of the models only a small number of ensemble members (i.e., realizations of the 20th century) were available. A cursory comparison with 24 CMIP3 models revealed few differences between the two generations of models with respect to the statistics analyzed.