A Regional Climate Change Assessment Program for North America

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Abstract

There are two main uncertainties in determining future climate: the trajectories of future emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and the response of the global climate system to any given set of future emissions [Meehl et al., 2007]. These uncertainties normally are elucidated via application of global climate models, which provide information at relatively coarse spatial resolutions. Greater interest in, and concern about, the details of climate change at regional scales has provided the motivation for the application of regional climate models, which introduces additional uncertainty [Christensen et al., 2007a].

These uncertainties in fine-scale regional climate responses, in contrast to uncertainties of coarser spatial resolution global models in which regional models are nested, now have been documented in numerous contexts [Christensen et al., 2007a] and have been found to extend to uncertainties in climate impacts [Wood et al., 2004; Oleson et al., 2007]. While European research in future climate projections has moved forward systematically to examine combined uncertainties from global and regional models [Christensen et al., 2007b], North American climate programs have lagged behind.

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