Assessment of the performance of CORDEX regional climate models in simulating rainfall and air temperature over southwest Ethiopia

Heliyon. 2021 Aug 13;7(8):e07791. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e07791. eCollection 2021 Aug.


This study analyzed the performance of four (REgional MOdel (REMO2009), High-Resolution Hamburg Climate Model 5 (HIRAM5), Climate Limited-Area Modeling Community (CCLM4-8) and Rossby Centre Regional Atmospheric Model (RCA4)) Regional Climate Models (RCMs) simulations from Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) Africa program. The simulation period of 1985-2005 was evaluated considering how each RCM simulated the observed rainfall and air temperature over southwest Ethiopia. It was found that all the RCMs simulated the seasonal rainfall, but not the peak rainfall, with all models including their ensemble underestimating the peak rainfall. However, the ensemble was better than the individual RCMs in simulating both rainfall and air temperature. All models were slightly biased around a warm climate zone in simulating maximum air temperature when compared to the simulation of air minimum temperature. Of the four RCMs, REMO2009 performed well in simulating the maximum and minimum air temperatures. The interseasonal variation in rainfall was greater than the seasonal variation in air temperature. In terms of cumulative distribution, the HIRAM5 captured more extreme rainfall events and overestimated the return period. Overall, the differences in performance among the RCMs provided strong evidence for the use of regional-scale data at the local scale in climate impact assessments being controversial. In relation to the spatial pattern of the rainfall, most of the models simulated the observed minimum rainfall in the north and northeast, medium rainfall in the central region, and maximum rainfall in the south and southwest of the study area. The overall results indicate that choosing a reliable RCM is fundamentally necessary to delivering a strong basis for any climate-change impact study.

Keywords: Air temperature; CORDEX; Ethiopia; Performance; Rainfall; Seasonal.