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CR 62:251-265 (2015)  -  DOI:

Climate projections for southern Australian cool-season rainfall: insights from a downscaling comparison

Michael R. Grose1,*, Aurel F. Moise2, Bertrand Timbal2, Jack J. Katzfey1, Marie Ekström3, Penny H. Whetton1

1Climate Adaptation Flagship, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, 107-121 Station St, Aspendale, VIC 3195, Australia
2Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Bureau of Meteorology, GPO Box 1289, Melbourne, VIC 3001, Australia
3CSIRO Land and Water, PO Box 1666, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The projected drying of the extra-tropics under a warmer climate has large implications for natural systems and water security in southern Australia. The downscaling of global climate models can provide insight into regional patterns of rainfall change in the mid-latitudes in the typically wetter cool season. The comparison of statistical and dynamical downscaling model outputs reveals regions of consistent potential added value in the climate-change signal over the 21st century that are largely related to finer resolution. These differences include a stronger and more regionalised rainfall decrease on west coasts in response to a shift in westerly circulation and a different response further from the coast where other influences are important. These patterns have a plausible relationship with topography and regional drivers that are not resolved by coarse global models. However, the comparison of statistical and dynamical downscaling reveals where the method and the configuration of each method makes a difference to the projection. This is an important source of uncertainty for regional rainfall projections. In particular, the simulated change in atmospheric circulation over the century is different in the dynamical downscaling compared to the global climate model inputs, related in part to a different response to patterns of surface warming. The dynamical downscaling places the border between regions with rainfall increase and decrease further north in winter and spring compared to the global climate models and therefore has a different rainfall projection for southeast mainland Australia in winter and for Tasmania in spring.

KEY WORDS: Downscaling · Regional climate models · Precipitation · Climate projections

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Cite this article as: Grose MR, Moise AF, Timbal B, Katzfey JJ, Ekström M, Whetton PH (2015) Climate projections for southern Australian cool-season rainfall: insights from a downscaling comparison. Clim Res 62:251-265.

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