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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-67
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-67
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 20 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Comparing internal variabilities in three regional single model initial-condition large ensembles (SMILE) over Europe

Fabian von Trentini1, Emma E. Aalbers2,3, Erich M. Fischer4, and Ralf Ludwig1 Fabian von Trentini et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, 80333, Germany
  • 2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), P.O. Box 201, 3730 AE De Bilt, the Netherlands
  • 3Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1081 HV, the Netherlands
  • 4Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, 8092, Switzerland

Abstract. Single model large ensembles are widely used model experiments to estimate internal climate variability. The underlying assumption is that the internal variability (here: inter-annual variability) of the chosen model is a good approximation of the observed natural (inter-annual) variability. In this study, we test this assumption based on three regional climate model large ensembles (16 members of an EC-EARTH-RACMO ensemble, 21 members of a CESM-CCLM ensemble, 50 members of a CanESM-CRCM ensemble) for four European domains (British Isles, France, Mid-Europe, Alps). Simulated inter-annual variability is evaluated against E-OBS and the inter-annunal variability and its future change are compared across the ensembles. To the knowledge of the authors, this is the first comparison of regional large ensembles over Europe. Analysis comprises seasonal temperature and precipitation, as well as indicators for dry periods and heat waves.

Results show a large consistency of all three ensembles with E-OBS data for most indicators and regions, validating the abilities of these ensembles to represent natural variability on the annual scale. EC-EARTH-RACMO shows the highest inter-annual variability for winter temperature and precipitation, whereas CESM-CCLM shows the highest variability for summer temperature and precipitation, as well as for heatwaves and dry periods. Despite these model differences, the sign of the future changes in internal variability is largely the same in all models: for summer temperature, summer precipitation and the number of heat waves, the internal variability increases, while it decreases for winter temperature. Changes of winter precipitation and dry periods are a bit unclear, with a tendency to increase for dry periods.

The overall consistency across single model large ensembles and observations strengthens the concept of large ensembles, and underlines their great potential for understanding and quantifying the role of internal climate variability.

Fabian von Trentini et al.
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Short summary
We compare the inter-annual variability of three Single Model Initial condition Large Ensembles (SMILEs), downscaled with three regional climate models over Europe for seasonal temperature and precipitation, number of heatwaves and maximum length of dry periods. They all show good consistency with observational data. The magnitude of variability and the future development is similar in many cases. In general, variability increases for summer indicators and decreases for winter indicators.
We compare the inter-annual variability of three Single Model Initial condition Large Ensembles...
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