Assessing the performance of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR5 climate models in simulating and projecting wind speeds over China



[1] The ability of nine current generation (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5, CMIP-5) coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) to accurately simulate the near-surface wind climate over China is evaluated by comparing output from the historical period (1971–2005) with an observational data set and reanalysis output. Results suggest the AOGCMs show substantial positive bias in the mean 10 m wind speed relative to observations and the ERA-40, National Centers for Environmental Prediction–Department of Energy, and National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis. Given that the models generally produce the upper level geopotential height gradients comparatively well, it is postulated that one major reason for the discrepancy between observed and modeled wind fields is the surface characterization used in the AOGCMs. All models exhibit lower interannual variability than reanalysis data and observations, and none of the models reproduce the recent decline in wind speed that is manifest in the near-surface observations. The wind speed of individual model runs during the historical period does not exhibit much influence from the initial atmospheric conditions. The output for the current century from seven of the AOGCMs is examined relative to the historical wind climate. The results indicate that spatial fields of wind speed at the end of the 21st century are very similar to those of the last 35 years with comparatively little response to the precise representative concentration pathway scenario applied.