Articles | Volume 4, issue 2
Research article
31 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 31 Jul 2013

A trend-preserving bias correction – the ISI-MIP approach

S. Hempel, K. Frieler, L. Warszawski, J. Schewe, and F. Piontek

Abstract. Statistical bias correction is commonly applied within climate impact modelling to correct climate model data for systematic deviations of the simulated historical data from observations. Methods are based on transfer functions generated to map the distribution of the simulated historical data to that of the observations. Those are subsequently applied to correct the future projections. Here, we present the bias correction method that was developed within ISI-MIP, the first Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project. ISI-MIP is designed to synthesise impact projections in the agriculture, water, biome, health, and infrastructure sectors at different levels of global warming.

Bias-corrected climate data that are used as input for the impact simulations could be only provided over land areas. To ensure consistency with the global (land + ocean) temperature information the bias correction method has to preserve the warming signal. Here we present the applied method that preserves the absolute changes in monthly temperature, and relative changes in monthly values of precipitation and the other variables needed for ISI-MIP. The proposed methodology represents a modification of the transfer function approach applied in the Water Model Intercomparison Project (Water-MIP). Correction of the monthly mean is followed by correction of the daily variability about the monthly mean.

Besides the general idea and technical details of the ISI-MIP method, we show and discuss the potential and limitations of the applied bias correction. In particular, while the trend and the long-term mean are well represented, limitations with regards to the adjustment of the variability persist which may affect, e.g. small scale features or extremes.

Final-revised paper