Grid-based performance evaluation of GCM-RCM combinations for rainfall reproduction

MEHR A. D., Kahya E.

THEORETICAL AND APPLIED CLIMATOLOGY, vol.129, pp.47-57, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 129
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00704-016-1758-1
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.47-57
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Prior to hydrological assessment of climate change at catchment scale, an applied methodology is necessary to evaluate the performance of climate models available for a given catchment. This study presents a grid-based performance evaluation approach as well as an intercomparison framework to evaluate the uncertainty of climate models for rainfall reproduction. For this purpose, we used outputs of two general circulation models (GCMs), namely ECHAM5 and CCSM3, downscaled by a regional climate model (RCM), namely RegCM3, over ten small to mid-size catchments in Rize Province, Turkey. To this end, five rainfall-borne climatic statistics are computed from the outputs of ECHAM5-RegCM3 and CCSM3-RegCM3 combinations in order to compare with those of observations in the province for the reference period 1961-1990. Performance of each combination is tested by means of scatter diagram, bias, mean absolute bias, root mean squared error, and model performance index (MPI) measures. Our results indicated that ECHAM5-RegCM3 overestimates the total monthly rainfall observations whereas CCSM3-RegCM3 tends to underestimate. In terms of maximum monthly and annual maximum rainfall reproduction, ECHAM5-RegCM3 shows higher performance than CCSM3-RegCM3, particularly in the coastland areas. In contrast, CCSM3-RegCM3 outperforms ECHAM5-RegCM3 in reproducing the number of rainy days, especially in the inland areas. The results also revealed that if a GCM-RCM combination performs well for a portion (statistic) of a catchment, it is not necessarily appropriate for the other portions (statistics). Moreover, the MPI measure demonstrated the superiority of ECHAM5-RegCM3 to CCSM3-RegCM3 up to 33 % excelling for annual rainfall reproduction in Rize Province.