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Downscaling “other variables” for Southwest climate change

September 7, 2012

“Downscaling” is a term used to describe various methods for scaling climate-change projections (which come to us on global grids with grid points 100 to 200 km apart) down to grid resolutions of tens of kilometers or so. This “downscaled” data is useful for analysis at something like watershed or human scales. Mike Dettinger, CNAP PI, recently published a technical paper describing a downscaling effort that included solar radiation (amount of sunshine) and surface winds:

Dettinger, M.D., 2012, Projections and downscaling of 21st Century temperatures,
precipitation, radiative fluxes and winds over the southwestern US, with a focus on
Lake Tahoe: Climatic Change, 17 p., doi:10.1007/s10584-012-0501-x.
which is available online at
The above image shows the correlation between 1961-1999 monthly (total of daily data) anomalies in surface wind speed between the 12km gridded observed data and  the observations aggregated to the global climate model grid and then downscaled back to the 12km grid. In general the fields are well correlated and discrepancies lie along topographical lines. This statistical downscaling is faster and much less computationally expensive then dynamical downscaling.
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