CR 61:259-276 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01254

The Statistical DownScaling Model - Decision Centric (SDSM-DC): conceptual basis and applications

R. L. Wilby1,*, C. W. Dawson2, C. Murphy3, P. O’Connor3, E. Hawkins4

1Department of Geography, 2Department of Computer Science, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK
3Department of Geography, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Ireland
4Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6BB, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Regional climate downscaling has arrived at an important juncture. Some in the research community favour continued refinement and evaluation of downscaling techniques within a broader framework of uncertainty characterisation and reduction. Others are calling for smarter use of downscaling tools, accepting that conventional, scenario-led strategies for adaptation planning have limited utility in practice. This paper sets out the rationale and new functionality of the Decision Centric (DC) version of the Statistical DownScaling Model (SDSM-DC). This tool enables synthesis of plausible daily weather series, exotic variables (such as tidal surge), and climate change scenarios guided, not determined, by climate model output. Two worked examples are presented. The first shows how SDSM-DC can be used to reconstruct and in-fill missing records based on calibrated predictor-predictand relationships. Daily temperature and precipitation series from sites in Africa, Asia and North America are deliberately degraded to show that SDSM-DC can reconstitute lost data. The second demonstrates the application of the new scenario generator for stress testing a specific adaptation decision. SDSM-DC is used to generate daily precipitation scenarios to simulate winter flooding in the Boyne catchment, Ireland. This sensitivity analysis reveals the conditions under which existing precautionary allowances for climate change might be insufficient. We conclude by discussing the wider implications of the proposed approach and research opportunities presented by the new tool.


KEY WORDS: Downscaling · Climate scenario · Weather generator · Stress test · Data reconstruction · Adaptation


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Cite this article as: Wilby RL, Dawson CW, Murphy C, O’Connor P, Hawkins E (2014) The Statistical DownScaling Model - Decision Centric (SDSM-DC): conceptual basis and applications. Clim Res 61:259-276. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01254

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