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An appraisal of downscaling methods used in climate change research

Ekstrom, Marie, Grose, Michael R. and Whetton, Penny H. 2015. An appraisal of downscaling methods used in climate change research. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 6 (3) , pp. 301-319. 10.1002/wcc.339

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The term ‘downscaling’ refers to the process of translating information from global climate model simulations to a finer spatial resolution. There are numerous meth- ods by which this translation of information can occur. For users of downscaled information, it is important to have some understanding of the properties of dif- ferent methods (in terms of their capabilities and limitations to convey the change signal, as simulated by the global model), as these dictate the type of applications that the downscaled information can be used for in impact, adaptation, and vul- nerability research. This article provides an appraisal of downscaling in terms of its perceived purpose and value for informing on plausible impacts due to climate change and for underpinning regional risk assessments. The concepts climate real- ism and physical plausibility of change are introduced to qualify the broad scale prop- erties associated with different categories of downscaling approaches; the former concerning the skill of different approaches to represent regional climate charac- teristics and the latter their skill in simulating regional climate change. Aspects of change not captured by global climate models, due to resolution or regional factors, may be captured by downscaling. If these aspects are of interest, then downscaling may be useful once it has been demonstrated to add value. For cases where the broad scale change to the mean climate is of interest, or where there is no demon- strated added value from downscaling, then there is a wide range of regionalization methods that are suitable for practitioners in the impact, adaptation, and vulnera- bility field.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1757-7780
Date of Acceptance: 23 February 2015
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2022 01:25

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