Reducing climate model biases by exploring parameter space with large ensembles of climate model simulations and statistical emulation
Understanding the unfolding challenges of climate change relies on climate models, many of which have large summer warm and dry biases over Northern Hemisphere continental midlatitudes. This work, with the example of the model used in the updated version of the weather@home distributed climate model framework, shows the potential for improving climate model simulations through a multiphased parameter refinement approach, particularly over the northwestern United States (NWUS). Each phase consists of (1) creating a perturbed parameter ensemble with the coupled global–regional atmospheric model, (2) building statistical emulators that estimate climate metrics as functions of parameter values, (3) and using the emulators to further refine the parameter space. The refinement process includes sensitivity analyses to identify the most influential parameters for various model output metrics; results are then used to cull parameters with little influence. Three phases of this iterative process are carried out before the results are considered to be satisfactory; that is, a handful of parameter sets are identified that meet acceptable bias reduction criteria. Results not only indicate that 74 % of the NWUS regional warm biases can be reduced by refining global atmospheric parameters that control convection and hydrometeor transport, as well as land surface parameters that affect plant photosynthesis, transpiration, and evaporation, but also suggest that this iterative approach to perturbed parameters has an important role to play in the evolution of physical parameterizations.