Arctic climate change in an ensemble of regional CORDEX simulations
Fifth phase Climate Model Intercomparison Project historical and scenario simulations from four global climate models (GCMs) using the Representative Concentration Pathways greenhouse gas concentration trajectories RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 are downscaled over the Arctic with the regional Rossby Centre Atmosphere model (RCA). The regional model simulations largely reflect the circulation bias patterns of the driving global models in the historical period, indicating the importance of lateral and lower boundary conditions. However, local differences occur as a reduced winter 2-m air temperature bias over the Arctic Ocean and increased cold biases over land areas in RCA. The projected changes are dominated by a strong warming in the Arctic, exceeding 15°K in autumn and winter over the Arctic Ocean in RCP8.5, strongly increased precipitation and reduced sea-level pressure. Near-surface temperature and precipitation are linearly related in the Arctic. The wintertime inversion strength is reduced, leading to a less stable stratification of the Arctic atmosphere. The diurnal temperature range is reduced in all seasons. The large-scale change patterns are dominated by the surface and lateral boundary conditions so future response is similar in RCA and the driving global models. However, the warming over the Arctic Ocean is smaller in RCA; the warming over land is larger in winter and spring but smaller in summer. The future response of winter cloud cover is opposite in RCA and the GCMs. Precipitation changes in RCA are much larger during summer than in the global models and more small-scale change patterns occur.
Keywords: Arctic; climate variability; climate change; regional climate modelling; global climate modelling; CORDEX.
(Published: 9 March 2015)Citation: Polar Research 2015, 34, 24603, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v34.24603
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