This study explores the role of model resolution on the simulation of precipitation and on the estimate of its future change in the Mediterranean region. It compares the results of two regional climate models (RCMs, with two different horizontal grid resolutions, 0.44 and 0.11 degs, covering the whole Mediterranean region) and of the global climate model (GCM, 0.75 degs) that has provided the boundary conditions for them. The regional climate models include an interactive oceanic component with a resolution of 1/16 degs. The period 1960–2100 and the representative concentration pathways RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 are considered. The results show that, in the present climate, increasing resolution increases total precipitation and its extremes over steep orography, while it has the opposite effect over flat areas and the sea. Considering climate change, in all simulations, total precipitation will decrease over most of the considered domain except at the northern boundary, where it will increase. Extreme precipitation will increase over most of the northern Mediterranean region and decrease over the sea and some southern areas. Further, the overall probability of precipitation (frequency of wet days) significantly decreases over most of the region, but wet days will be characterized with precipitation intensity higher than the present. Our analysis shows that: (1) these projected changes are robust with respect to the considered range of model resolution; (2) increasing the resolution (within the considered resolution range) decreases the magnitude of these climate change effects. However, it is likely that resolution plays a less important role than other factors, such as the different physics of regional and global climate models. It remains to be investigated whether further increasing the resolution (and reaching the scale explicitly permitting convection) would change this conclusion.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited