CR 10:95-107 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/cr010095

Comparison of the WGEN and LARS-WG stochastic weather generators for diverse climates

Mikhail A. Semenov1,*, Roger J. Brooks1, Elaine M. Barrow2, Clarence W. Richardson3

1IACR-Long Ashton Research Station, Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS41 9AF, United Kingdom
2Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
3Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory, USDA/ARC, Temple, Texas 76502, USA

ABSTRACT: Stochastic weather generators are used in a wide range of studies, such as hydrological applications, environmental management and agricultural risk assessments. Such studies often require long series of daily weather data for risk assessment and weather generators can produce time series of synthetic daily weather data of any length. Weather generators are also used to interpolate observed data to produce synthetic weather data at new sites, and they have recently been employed in the construction of climate change scenarios. Any generator should be tested to ensure that the data that it produces is satisfactory for the purposes for which it is to be used. The accuracy required will depend on the application of the data, and the performance of the generator may vary considerably for different climates. The aim of this paper is to test and compare 2 commonly-used weather generators, namely WGEN and LARS-WG, at 18 sites in the USA, Europe and Asia, chosen to represent a range of climates. Statistical tests were selected to compare a variety of different weather characteristics of the observed and synthetic weather data such as, for example, the lengths of wet and dry series, the distribution of precipitation and the lengths of frost spells. The LARS-WG generator used more complex distributions for weather variables and tended to match the observed data more closely than WGEN, although there are certain characteristics of the data that neither generator reproduced accurately. The implications for the development and use of stochastic weather generators are discussed.

KEY WORDS: Weather generators · Model validation · Model comparison · Climatic diversity

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