19 Jun 2023
 | 19 Jun 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Heat wave characteristics: evaluation of regional climate model performances for Germany

Dragan Petrovic, Benjamin Fersch, and Harald Kunstmann

Abstract. Heat waves are among the most severe climate extreme events. In this study, we address the impact of increased model resolution and tailored model settings on the reproduction of these events by evaluating different regional climate model outputs for Germany and the near surroundings between 1980–2009. Both, outputs of an ensemble of six EURO-CORDEX models of 12.5 km grid resolution and outputs from a high resolution (5 km) WRF run are employed. The latter was especially tailored for the study region regarding the physics configuration. We analyze the reproduction of maximum temperature, number of heat wave days, heat wave characteristics (frequency, duration and intensity), the 2003 major event and trends in the annual number of heat waves. E-OBS is used as reference and we imply Taylor diagram, Mann-Kendall trend test, spatial efficiency metric and cumulative heat index as a measure for intensity. Averaged over the domain, heat waves occurred about 31 times in the study period with an average duration of 4 days and average heat excess of 10 °C. Maximum temperature was reproduced reasonably well by all models. Despite the same forcing, the models exhibited a large spread in the heat wave reproduction. The domain mean conditions of heat wave frequency and duration were captured reasonably well, but intensity was reproduced weakly. The spread was particularly pronounced for the 2003 event, indicating the difficulty of models to reproduce single major events. All models underestimated the spatial extent of the observed increasing trends. WRF mostly did not perform significantly better than the other models. We conclude that increased model resolution does not add a significant value to heat wave simulation if the base resolution is already relatively high. Tailored model settings seem to play a minor role. The partly distinct differences in performance, however, highlight that the choice of model can be crucial.

Dragan Petrovic et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2023-91', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Jul 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Dragan Petrovic, 28 Jul 2023
  • RC2: 'Interesting paper with some flaws and a very limited significance', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Jul 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Dragan Petrovic, 28 Jul 2023

Dragan Petrovic et al.

Data sets

WRF model configuration and data used for the NHESS manuscript "Heat wave characteristics: evaluation of regional climate model performances for Germany" Dragan Petrovic

Dragan Petrovic et al.


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Short summary
Influence of model resolution and settings on heat wave reproduction in Germany between 1980–2009 is analyzed here. Outputs from a high-resolution model with settings tailored to the target region are compared to those from coarser resolution models with more general settings. It is shown that neither the increased resolution nor the tailored model settings add a significant value to the heat wave simulation. The models exhibit a large spread, indicating that the choice of model can be crucial.