Identifying misbehaving models using baseline climate variance

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Abstract

[1] The majority of projections made using general circulation models (GCMs) are conducted to help tease out the effects on a region, or on the climate system as a whole, of changing climate dynamics. Sun et al., however, used model runs from 20 different coupled atmosphere-ocean GCMs to try to understand a different aspect of climate projections: how bias correction, model selection, and other statistical techniques might affect the estimated outcomes. As a case study, the authors focused on predicting the potential change in precipitation for the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), a 1-million-square-kilometer area in southeastern Australia that suffered a recent decade of drought that left many wondering about the potential impacts of climate change on this important agricultural region. The authors first compared the precipitation predictions made by the models with 107 years of observations, and they then made bias corrections to adjust the model projections to have the same statistical properties as the observations. They found that while the spread of the projected values was reduced, the average precipitation projection for the end of the 21st century barely changed. Further, the authors determined that interannual variations in precipitation for the MDB could be explained by random chance, where the precipitation in a given year was independent of that in previous years.

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