High-resolution downscaling of CMIP6 Earth system and global climate models using deep learning for Iberia

Soares, Pedro M. M.; Johannsen, Frederico; Lima, Daniela C. A.; Lemos, Gil; Bento, Virgílio A.; Bushenkova, Angelina

Deep learning (DL) methods have recently garnered attention from the climate change community for being an innovative approach to downscaling climate variables from Earth system and global climate models (ESGCMs) with horizontal resolutions still too coarse to represent regional- to local-scale phenomena. In the context of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6), ESGCM simulations were conducted for the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at resolutions ranging from 0.70 to 3.75inline-formula. Here, four convolutional neural network (CNN) architectures were evaluated for their ability to downscale, to a resolution of 0.1inline-formula, seven CMIP6 ESGCMs over the Iberian Peninsula – a known climate change hotspot, due to its increased vulnerability to projected future warming and drying conditions. The study is divided into three stages: (1) evaluating the performance of the four CNN architectures in predicting mean, minimum, and maximum temperatures, as well as daily precipitation, trained using ERA5 data and compared with the Iberia01 observational dataset; (2) downscaling the CMIP6 ESGCMs using the trained CNN architectures and further evaluating the ensemble against Iberia01; and (3) constructing a multi-model ensemble of CNN-based downscaled projections for temperature and precipitation over the Iberian Peninsula at 0.1inline-formula resolution throughout the 21st century under four Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP) scenarios. Upon validation and satisfactory performance evaluation, the DL downscaled projections demonstrate overall agreement with the CMIP6 ESGCM ensemble in magnitude for temperature projections and sign for the projected temperature and precipitation changes. Moreover, the advantages of using a high-resolution DL downscaled ensemble of ESGCM climate projections are evident, offering substantial added value in representing regional climate change over Iberia. Notably, a clear warming trend is observed in Iberia, consistent with previous studies in this area, with projected temperature increases ranging from 2 to 6 inline-formulaC, depending on the climate scenario. Regarding precipitation, robust projected decreases are observed in western and southwestern Iberia, particularly after 2040. These results may offer a new tool for providing regional climate change information for adaptation strategies based on CMIP6 ESGCMs prior to the next phase of the European branch of the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (EURO-CORDEX) experiments.

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Soares, Pedro M. M. / Johannsen, Frederico / Lima, Daniela C. A. / et al: High-resolution downscaling of CMIP6 Earth system and global climate models using deep learning for Iberia. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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