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RegCM3 regional climatologies for South America using reanalysis and ECHAM global model driving fields

Seth, Anji; Rauscher, Sara A.; Camargo, Suzana J.; Qian, Jian-Hua; Paul, J. S.

To enable downscaling of seasonal prediction and climate change scenarios, long-term baseline regional climatologies which employ global model forcing are needed for South America. As a first step in this process, this work examines climatological integrations with a regional climate model using a continental scale domain nested in both reanalysis data and multiple realizations of an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM). The analysis presents an evaluation of the nested model simulated large scale circulation, mean annual cycle and interannual variability which is compared against observational estimates and also with the driving GCM for the Northeast, Amazon, Monsoon and Southeast regions of South America. Results indicate that the regional climate model simulates the annual cycle of precipitation well in the Northeast region and Monsoon regions; it exhibits a dry bias during winter (July–September) in the Southeast, and simulates a semi-annual cycle with a dry bias in summer (December–February) in the Amazon region. There is little difference in the annual cycle between the GCM and renalyses driven simulations, however, substantial differences are seen in the interannual variability. Despite the biases in the annual cycle, the regional model captures much of the interannual variability observed in the Northeast, Southeast and Amazon regions. In the Monsoon region, where remote influences are weak, the regional model improves upon the GCM, though neither show substantial predictability. We conclude that in regions where remote influences are strong and the global model performs well it is difficult for the regional model to improve the large scale climatological features, indeed the regional model may degrade the simulation. Where remote forcing is weak and local processes dominate, there is some potential for the regional model to add value. This, however, will require improvments in physical parameterizations for high resolution tropical simulations.

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Climate Dynamics