Articles | Volume 12, issue 9
Research article
06 Sep 2012
Research article |  | 06 Sep 2012

Dynamical and statistical downscaling of the French Mediterranean climate: uncertainty assessment

M. Vrac, P. Drobinski, A. Merlo, M. Herrmann, C. Lavaysse, L. Li, and S. Somot

Abstract. ERA-40 reanalyses, and simulations from three regional climate models (RCMs) (ALADIN, LMDZ, and WRF) and from one statistical downscaling model (CDF-t) are used to evaluate the uncertainty in downscaling of wind, temperature, and rainfall cumulative distribution functions (CDFs) for eight stations in the French Mediterranean basin over 1991–2000. The uncertainty is quantified using the Cramer-von Mises score (CvM) to measure the "distance" between the simulated and observed CDFs. The ability of the three RCMs and CDF-t to simulate the "climate" variability is quantified with the explained variance, variance ratio and extreme occurrence. The study shows that despite their differences, the three RCMs display very similar performance. In terms of global distributions (i.e. CvM), all models perform better than ERA-40 for both seasons and variables. However, looking at variance criteria, RCMs are not always much better than ERA-40 reanalyses, whereas CDF-t produces accurate results when applied to ERA-40. In a second step, a combined statistical/dynamical downscaling approach has been used, consisting in applying CDF-t to the RCM outputs. It shows that CDF-t applied to the RCM outputs does not necessarily produce better results than those from CDF-t directly applied to ERA-40. It also shows that CDF-t applied to RCMs generally improves the downscaled CDFs and that the "additional" added value of CDF-t applied to the RCMs is independent of the performance of the RCMs in terms of CvM, explained variance, variance ratio and extreme occurrence.