Main content area

High-resolution climate projections for South Asia to inform climate impacts and adaptation studies in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Mahanadi deltas

Janes, Tamara, McGrath, Fintan, Macadam, Ian, Jones, Richard
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.650 pp. 1499-1520
atmospheric circulation, basins, climate, climate change, climate models, data collection, greenhouse gases, monsoon season, radiative forcing, temperature, South Asia
Climate impacts and adaptation studies often use output from impact models that require data representing future climates at a resolution greater than can be provided by Global Climate Models (GCMs). This paper describes the use of Regional Climate Model (RCM) simulations to generate high-resolution future climate information for assessing climate impacts in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) and Mahanadi deltas as part of the DECCMA project. In this study, three different GCMs (HadGEM2-ES, CNRM-CM5 and GFDL-CM3), all using a single scenario for future greenhouse forcing of the atmosphere (RCP 8.5), were downscaled to a horizontal resolution of 25 km over south Asia using the HadRM3P RCM. These three GCMs were selected based on ability to represent key climate processes over south Asia and ability to sample a range of regional climate change responses to greenhouse gas forcing. RCM simulations of temperature, precipitation, and lower level (850 hPa) atmospheric circulation in the monsoon season (June, July, August, September – JJAS) were compared with observational datasets and their respective driving GCMs to ensure large-scale consistency. Although there are some biases in the RCM simulations, these comparisons indicate that the RCMs are able to simulate realistically aspects of the observed climate of South Asia, such as the monsoon circulation and associated precipitation that are key for informing downstream impacts and adaptation studies. Simulated future temperature and precipitation changes on seasonal and daily timescales suggest increases in both temperature and precipitation across all three models during the monsoon season, with an increase in the amount of extremely heavy precipitation over the GBM and Mahanadi basins. Despite different driving conditions, these results are consistent across all three RCM simulations, providing a level of confidence in the magnitudes and spatial characteristics of temperature and precipitation projections for South Asia.