Performance and process-based evaluation of the BARPA-R Australasian regional climate model version 1

Howard, Emma; Su, Chun-Hsu; Stassen, Christian; Naha, Rajashree; Ye, Harvey; Pepler, Acacia; Bell, Samuel S.; Dowdy, Andrew J.; Tucker, Simon O.; Franklin, Charmaine

Anthropogenic climate change is changing the Earth system processes that control the characteristics of natural hazards both globally and across Australia. Model projections of hazards under future climate change are necessary for effective adaptation. This paper presents BARPA-R (the Bureau of Meteorology Atmospheric Regional Projections for Australia), a regional climate model designed to downscale climate projections over the Australasian region with the purpose of investigating future hazards. BARPA-R, a limited-area model, has a 17 km horizontal grid spacing and makes use of the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM) atmospheric model and the Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES) land surface model. To establish credibility and in compliance with the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) experiment design, the BARPA-R framework has been used to downscale ERA5 reanalysis. Here, an assessment of this evaluation experiment is provided. Performance-based evaluation results are benchmarked against ERA5, with comparable performance between the free-running BARPA-R simulations and observationally constrained reanalysis interpreted as a good result. First, an examination of BARPA-R's representation of Australia's surface air temperature, precipitation, and 10 m winds finds good performance overall, with biases including a 1 inline-formulaC cold bias in daily maximum temperatures, reduced diurnal temperature range, and wet biases up to 25 mm per month in inland Australia. Recent trends in daily maximum temperatures are consistent with observational products, while trends in minimum temperatures show overestimated warming and trends in precipitation show underestimated wetting in northern Australia. Precipitation and temperature teleconnections are effectively represented in BARPA-R when present in the driving boundary conditions, while 10 m winds are improved over ERA5 in six out of eight of the Australian regions considered. Secondly, the paper considers the representation of large-scale atmospheric circulation features and weather systems. While generally well represented, convection-related features such as tropical cyclones, the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ), the Northwest Cloudband, and the monsoon westerlies show more divergence from observations and internal interannual variability than mid-latitude phenomena such as the westerly jets and extratropical cyclones. Having simulated a realistic Australasian climate, the BARPA-R framework will be used to downscale two climate change scenarios from seven CMIP6 global climate models (GCMs).



Howard, Emma / Su, Chun-Hsu / Stassen, Christian / et al: Performance and process-based evaluation of the BARPA-R Australasian regional climate model version 1. 2024. Copernicus Publications.


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