Long-term variance of heavy precipitation across central Europe using a large ensemble of regional climate model simulations

Florian Ehmele, Lisa-Ann Kautz, Hendrik Feldmann, Joaquim G. Pinto
2020 Earth System Dynamics  
Abstract. Widespread flooding events are among the major natural hazards in central Europe. Such events are usually related to intensive, long-lasting precipitation over larger areas. Despite some prominent floods during the last three decades (e.g., 1997, 1999, 2002, and 2013), extreme floods are rare and associated with estimated long return periods of more than 100 years. To assess the associated risks of such extreme events, reliable statistics of precipitation and discharge are required.
more » ... rge are required. Comprehensive observations, however, are mainly available for the last 50–60 years or less. This shortcoming can be reduced using stochastic data sets. One possibility towards this aim is to consider climate model data or extended reanalyses. This study presents and discusses a validation of different century-long data sets, decadal hindcasts, and also predictions for the upcoming decade combined to a new large ensemble. Global reanalyses for the 20th century with a horizontal resolution of more than 100 km have been dynamically downscaled with a regional climate model (Consortium for Small-scale Modeling – CLimate Mode; COSMO-CLM) towards a higher resolution of 25 km. The new data sets are first filtered using a dry-day adjustment. Evaluation focuses on intensive widespread precipitation events and related temporal variabilities and trends. The presented ensemble data are within the range of observations for both statistical distributions and time series. The temporal evolution during the past 60 years is captured. The results reveal some long-term variability with phases of increased and decreased precipitation rates. The overall trend varies between the investigation areas but is mostly significant. The predictions for the upcoming decade show ongoing tendencies with increased areal precipitation. The presented regional climate model (RCM) ensemble not only allows for more robust statistics in general, it is also suitable for a better estimation of extreme values.
doi:10.5194/esd-11-469-2020 fatcat:y2wyqq6e4vaadjepcr3v7ngksu