A multi- physics ensemble of regional climate change projections over the Iberian Peninsula

Jerez S., Montavez J.P., Gomez-Navarro J.J., Lorente R., Garcia-Valero J.A., Jimenez-Guerrero P.
Climate Dynamics. DOI 10.1007/s00382-012-1551-5

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This study illustrates the sensitivity of regional climate change projections to the model physics. A singlemodel (MM5) multi-physics ensemble of regional climate simulations over the Iberian Peninsula for present (1970-1999) and future (2070-2099 under the A2 scenario) periods is assessed. The ensemble comprises eight members resulting from the combination of two options of parameterization schemes for the planetary boundary layer, cumulus and microphysics. All the considered combinations were previously evaluated by comparing hindcasted simulations to observations, none of them providing clearly outlying climates. Thus, the differences among the various ensemble members (spread) in the future projections could be considered as a matter of uncertainty in the change signals (as similarly assumed in multi-model studies). The results highlight the great dependence of the spread on the synoptic conditions driving the regional model. In particular, the spread generally amplifies under the future scenario leading to a large spread accompanying the mean change signals, as large as the magnitude of the mean projected changes and analogous to the spread obtained in multi-model ensembles. Moreover, the sign of the projected change varies depending on the choice of the model physics in many cases. This, together with the fact that the key mechanisms identified for the simulation of the climatology of a given period (either present or future) and those introducing the largest spread in the projected changes differ significantly, make further claims for efforts to better understand and model the parameterized subgrid processes.