A multi-physics ensemble of present-day climate regional simulations over the Iberian Peninsula

Jerez S., Montavez J.P., Jimenez-Guerrero P., Gomez-Navarro J.J., Lorente R., Zorita E.
Climate Dynamics. DOI 10.1007/s00382-012-1539-1

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This work assesses the influence of the model physics in present-day regional climate simulations. It is based on a multi-phyiscs ensemble of 30-year long MM5 hindcasted simulations performed over a complex and climatically heterogeneous domain as the Iberian Peninsula. The ensemble consists of eight members that results from combining different parametrization schemes for modeling the Planetary Boundary Layer, the cumulus and the microphysics processes. The analysis is made at the seasonal time scale and focuses on mean values and interannual variability of temperature and precipitation. The objectives are (1) to evaluate and characterize differences among the simulations attributable to changes in the physical options of the regional model, and (2) to identify the most suitable parametrization schemes and understand the underlying mechanisms causing that some schemes perform better than others. The results confirm the paramount importance of the model physics, showing that the spread among the various simulations is of comparable magnitude to the spread obtained in similar multi-model ensembles. This suggests that most of the spread obtained in multi-model ensembles could be attributable to the different physical configurations employed in the various models. Second, we obtain that no single ensemble member outperforms the others in every situation. Nevertheless, some particular schemes display a better performance. On the one hand, the non-local MRF PBL scheme reduces the cold bias of the simulations throughout the year compared to the local Eta model. The reason is that the former simulates deeper mixing layers. On the other hand, the Grell parametrization scheme for cumulus produces smaller amount of precipitation in the summer season compared to the more complex Kain-Fritsch scheme by reducing the overestimation in the simulated frequency of the convective precipitation events. Consequently, the interannual variability of precipitation (temperature) diminishes (increases), which implies a better agreement with the observations in both cases. Although these features improve in general the accuracy of the simulations, controversial nuances are also highlighted.