Articles | Volume 7, issue 1
Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 71–88, 2016
Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 71–88, 2016

Research article 02 Feb 2016

Research article | 02 Feb 2016

A novel bias correction methodology for climate impact simulations

S. Sippel1,2, F. E. L. Otto3, M. Forkel1, M. R. Allen3, B. P. Guillod3, M. Heimann1, M. Reichstein1, S. I. Seneviratne2, K. Thonicke4, and M. D. Mahecha1,5 S. Sippel et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Hans-Knöll-Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
  • 2Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich, Rämistr. 101, 8075 Zürich, Switzerland
  • 3Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
  • 4Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 5German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5E, 04103 Leipzig, Germany

Abstract. Understanding, quantifying and attributing the impacts of extreme weather and climate events in the terrestrial biosphere is crucial for societal adaptation in a changing climate. However, climate model simulations generated for this purpose typically exhibit biases in their output that hinder any straightforward assessment of impacts. To overcome this issue, various bias correction strategies are routinely used to alleviate climate model deficiencies, most of which have been criticized for physical inconsistency and the nonpreservation of the multivariate correlation structure. In this study, we introduce a novel, resampling-based bias correction scheme that fully preserves the physical consistency and multivariate correlation structure of the model output. This procedure strongly improves the representation of climatic extremes and variability in a large regional climate model ensemble (HadRM3P,, which is illustrated for summer extremes in temperature and rainfall over Central Europe. Moreover, we simulate biosphere–atmosphere fluxes of carbon and water using a terrestrial ecosystem model (LPJmL) driven by the bias-corrected climate forcing. The resampling-based bias correction yields strongly improved statistical distributions of carbon and water fluxes, including the extremes. Our results thus highlight the importance of carefully considering statistical moments beyond the mean for climate impact simulations. In conclusion, the present study introduces an approach to alleviate climate model biases in a physically consistent way and demonstrates that this yields strongly improved simulations of climate extremes and associated impacts in the terrestrial biosphere. A wider uptake of our methodology by the climate and impact modelling community therefore seems desirable for accurately quantifying changes in past, current and future extremes.

Short summary
We introduce a novel technique to bias correct climate model output for impact simulations that preserves its physical consistency and multivariate structure. The methodology considerably improves the representation of extremes in climatic variables relative to conventional bias correction strategies. Illustrative simulations of biosphere–atmosphere carbon and water fluxes with a biosphere model (LPJmL) show that the novel technique can be usefully applied to drive climate impact models.
Final-revised paper