Understanding differences in California climate projections produced by dynamical and statistical downscaling.


Walton, D, N Berg, D Pierce, E Maurer, A Hall, Y Lin, S Rahimi, and D Cayan. 2020. “Understanding differences in California climate projections produced by dynamical and statistical downscaling.” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 125 (19): e2020JD032812.


We compare historical and end‐of‐century temperature and precipitation patterns over California from one dynamically downscaled simulation using the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model and two simulations statistically downscaled using Localized Constructed Analogs (LOCA). We uniquely separate causes of differences between dynamically and statistically based future climate projections into differences in historical climate (gridded observations versus regional climate model output) and differences in how these downscaling techniques explicitly handle future climate changes (numerical modeling versus analogs). In these methods, solutions between different downscaling techniques differ more in the future compared to the historical period. Changes projected by LOCA are insensitive to the choice of driving data. Only through dynamical downscaling can we simulate physically consistent regional springtime warming patterns across the Sierra Nevada, while the statistical simulations inherit an unphysical signal from their parent Global Climate Model (GCM) or gridded data. The results of our study clarify why these different techniques produce different outcomes and may also provide guidance on which downscaled products to use for certain impact analyses in California and perhaps other Mediterranean regimes.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 01/02/2021