Improving the potential accuracy and usability of EURO-CORDEX estimates of future rainfall climate using frequentist model averaging

Jewson, Stephen; Barbato, Giuliana; Mercogliano, Paola; Mysiak, Jaroslav; Sassi, Maximiliano

Probabilities of future climate states can be estimated by fitting distributions to the members of an ensemble of climate model projections. The change in the ensemble mean can be used as an estimate of the change in the mean of the real climate. However, the level of sampling uncertainty around the change in the ensemble mean varies from case to case and in some cases is large. We compare two model-averaging methods that take the uncertainty in the change in the ensemble mean into account in the distribution fitting process. They both involve fitting distributions to the ensemble using an uncertainty-adjusted value for the ensemble mean in an attempt to increase predictive skill relative to using the unadjusted ensemble mean. We use the two methods to make projections of future rainfall based on a large data set of high-resolution EURO-CORDEX simulations for different seasons, rainfall variables, representative concentration pathways (RCPs), and points in time. Cross-validation within the ensemble using both point and probabilistic validation methods shows that in most cases predictions based on the adjusted ensemble means show higher potential accuracy than those based on the unadjusted ensemble mean. They also perform better than predictions based on conventional Akaike model averaging and statistical testing. The adjustments to the ensemble mean vary continuously between situations that are statistically significant and those that are not. Of the two methods we test, one is very simple, and the other is more complex and involves averaging using a Bayesian posterior. The simpler method performs nearly as well as the more complex method.

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Jewson, Stephen / Barbato, Giuliana / Mercogliano, Paola / et al: Improving the potential accuracy and usability of EURO-CORDEX estimates of future rainfall climate using frequentist model averaging. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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