The Effect of Grid Spacing and Domain Size on the Quality of Ensemble Regional Climate Downscaling over South Asia during the Northeasterly Monsoon

Zubair, Lareef M.

The performance of an ensemble-based dynamical regional climate downscaling system is evaluated over southern Asia in a northeasterly monsoon season for different choices in grid spacing and domain size. A seven-member ensemble of the ECHAM4.5 global climate model at a resolution of about 300-km grid size was used to drive the RegCM3 regional climate model with grid sizes of 100, 50, 25, and 20 km, respectively. The performance is reported in detail over Sri Lanka. Two sets of regional model runs were undertaken to assess the effect of grid spacing and model domain size on the downscaling performance. The RegCM3 simulation with 100-km grid size significantly underestimates the height of the central mountain range in Sri Lanka, in a manner that is too coarse to capture orographic influences on the rainfall. However, the RegCM3 simulations with grid sizes from 20 to 50 km capture mesoscale features that arise from uplift condensation on the windward side of the monsoon winds due to the topography. These simulations also capture the orographic influences on the month-to-month rainfall over Sri Lanka that were absent in the ECHAM4.5. While the "small domain" runs [where only the forcings for the region immediately around Sri Lanka (4°–11°N, 76°–85°E) are used] are computationally more efficient, the results are overly controlled by the lateral boundary driving of the ECHAM4.5 so they inherit large uncertainty from the seven ECHAM4.5 realizations used for the RegCM3 ensemble runs. The "large domain" simulation used a domain comprising both land and ocean (approximately 4°S–22°N, 65°–96°E). The large-domain group of simulations produced reasonable spatial distribution of precipitation over the region. Moreover, the ensemble spread was considerably reduced in the large-domain high-resolution runs. Therefore, fine enough grid resolution (25 km or less) and sufficiently large domain size are both needed to simulate the essential features of precipitation in this tropical and monsoonal region.


Also Published In

Monthly Weather Review

More About This Work

Academic Units
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Published Here
September 1, 2011