Since the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) experiments exhibit limited skill in reproducing the statistical properties of prevailing precipitation regimes over the major Himalayan watersheds (Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Mekong), this study evaluates the anticipated added skill of their dynamically refined simulations performed under the framework of Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiments for South Asia (CX-SA). For this, the fidelity of eight CX-SA experiments against their six driving CMIP5 experiments is assessed for the historical period (1971–2005) in terms of time-dependent statistical properties (onset/retreat timings and rapid fractional accumulation—RFA) of the dominant summer monsoonal precipitation regime (MPR). Further, a self-defining seasonality index (SI), which is a product of precipitation and the distance of its actual distribution relative to its uniform distribution (relative entropy—RE), has been computed for MPR, westerly precipitation regime (WPR) and annual precipitation. The time evolution of precipitation, RE and SI has also been analyzed. Results suggest that CX-SA experiments simulate even higher wet biases than their driving CMIP5 experiments over all study basins, mainly due to higher wet biases simulated over the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. Most of the CX-SA experiments suggest unrealistic timings of the monsoon onset that are far earlier than their driving CMIP5 experiments for all basins. Generally, CX-SA experiments feature higher underestimation of RFA slope, RE and SI, distancing their driving CMIP5 experiments farther from observations. Interestingly, regardless of the diverse skill of CMIP5 experiments, their fine scale CX-SA experiments exhibit quite a similar skill when downscaled by the same regional climate model (RCM), indicating RCM’s ability to considerably alter the driving datasets. These findings emphasize on improving the fidelity of simulated precipitation regimes over the Himalayan watersheds by exploiting the potential of RCMs in term of microphysics, resolutions and convective closures, and preferably, on resolving the crucial fine scale processes further down to their representative (meso-to-local) scales.
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