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CMIP5 Hind-Casting of Precipitation in the Karakoram-Himalaya

Paper Reviewed
Palazzi, E., von Hardenberg, J., Terzago, S. and Provenzale, A. 2015. Precipitation in the Karakoram-Himalaya: a CMIP5 view. Climate Dynamics 45: 21-45.

Introducing their publication in Climate Dynamics, Palazzi et al. (2015) state that they analyzed the properties of precipitation in the Hindu-Kush Karakoram Himalaya region as simulated by thirty-two state-of-the-art global climate models that participated in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5), where they separately considered the Hindu-Kush Karakoram (HKK) in the west and the Himalaya in the east, and where they compared the models' hindcasts with Climate Research Unit (CRU) and Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) precipitation data for the period 1901-2005. And what did these efforts reveal?

The four Italian researchers write that "the multi-model ensemble mean and most individual models exhibit a wet bias with respect to CRU and GPCC observations in both regions and for all seasons," which is about as all-encompassing a negative finding as one could imagine. Yet they also report that "the models differ greatly in the seasonal climatology of precipitation which they reproduce in the HKK." And so it is that they are forced to conclude that "no single model (or group of models) emerges as that providing the best results for all the statistics considered."

As for the generality of their results, Palazzi et al. write that "the overall wet bias which the models exhibit on average in the Himalaya and HKK, particularly in winter, is consistent with the bias commonly seen in the precipitation simulated by state-of-the-art GCMs over high-elevated terrains, such as the Tibetan plateau," citing Lee et al. (2010) and Su et al. (2012).

So -- are we there yet? -- as the saying goes. Not by a long shot! And this is only one aspect of the many climate model inadequacies that are described and discussed on our website under the general heading of Climate Models (Inadequacies).

Lee, J.Y., Wang, B., Kang, I.S., Shukla, J., Kumar, A., Kug, J.S., Schemm, J.K.E., Luo, J.J., Yamagata, T., Fu, X., Alves, O., Stern, B., Rosati, T. and Park, C.K. 2010. How are seasonal prediction skills related to models' performance on mean state and annual cycle? Climate Dynamics 35: 183-267.

Su, F., Duan, X., Chen, D., Hao, Z. and Cuo, L. 2012. Evaluation of the global climate models in the CMIP5 over the Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Climate 26: 3187-3208.

Posted 17 September 2015