The North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program: Overview of Phase I Results

Gutowski, William
Mearns, Linda
Arritt, Ray
Biner, Sébastien
Bukovsky, Melissa
Takle, Eugene
McGinnis, Seth
Sain, Stephan
Caya, Daniel
Correia, James
Flory, David
Gutowski, William
Takle, Eugene
Jones, Richard
Leung, Ruby
Moufouma-Okia, Wilfran
McDaniel, Larry
Nunes, Ana
Qian, Yun
Roads, John
Sloan, Lisa
Snyder, Mark
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AgronomyGeological and Atmospheric Sciences

The North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) is an international effort designed to investigate the uncertainties in regional-scale projections of future climate and produce highresolution climate change scenarios using multiple regional climate models (RCMs) nested within atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) forced with the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) A2 scenario, with a common domain covering the conterminous United States, northern Mexico, and most of Canada. The program also includes an evaluation component (phase I) wherein the participating RCMs, with a grid spacing of 50 km, are nested within 25 years of National Centers for Environmental Prediction–Department of Energy (NCEP–DOE) Reanalysis II.

This paper provides an overview of evaluations of the phase I domain-wide simulations focusing on monthly and seasonal temperature and precipitation, as well as more detailed investigation of four subregions. The overall quality of the simulations is determined, comparing the model performances with each other as well as with other regional model evaluations over North America. The metrics used herein do differentiate among the models but, as found in previous studies, it is not possible to determine a “best” model among them. The ensemble average of the six models does not perform best for all measures, as has been reported in a number of global climate model studies. The subset ensemble of the two models using spectral nudging is more often successful for domain-wide root-mean-square error (RMSE), especially for temperature. This evaluation phase of NARCCAP will inform later program elements concerning differentially weighting the models for use in producing robust regional probabilities of future climate change.


This article is from Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 93, 1337–1362. doi: Posted with permission.