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Evaluation of regional climate simulations over the Great Lakes region driven by three global data sets

Zhong, Shiyuan, Li, Xiuping, Bian, Xindi, Heilman, Warren E., Leung, L. Ruby, Gustafson, William I., Jr.
Journal of Great Lakes research 2012 v.38 no.2 pp. 212-225
General Circulation Models, atmospheric precipitation, climate, cold season, data collection, lakes, seasonal variation, summer, surface water temperature, winter, Great Lakes region
The performance of regional climate simulations is evaluated for the Great Lakes region. Three 10-year (1990–1999) current-climate simulations are performed using the MM5 regional climate model (RCM) with 36-km horizontal resolution. The simulations employed identical configuration and physical parameterizations, but different lateral boundary conditions and sea-surface temperatures derived from the NCEP Global Reanalysis and output from the CCSM3 and GISS general circulation models (GCMs). The simulation results are compared to the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). The three RCM simulations appeared to be more accurate in winter and least accurate in summer, and more accurate aloft than near the surface. The reanalysis-constrained simulation adequately captured the spatial distribution and seasonal cycle of the observed surface-air temperature and precipitation, but it produced consistently across all seasons a cold bias that is generally larger over the lakes than over land and a wet bias due to an overestimation of non-convective precipitation. The simulated seasonal cycle of moisture–flux convergence over the region was in very good agreement with NARR. The two GCM-driven runs adequately simulated the spatial and seasonal variation of temperature, but overestimated cold-season precipitation and underestimated summer precipitation, reversing the observed annual precipitation cycle. The GISS-driven run failed to simulate the prevailing low-level flow and moisture convergence patterns. All three RCM simulations successfully captured the impact of the Great Lakes on the region's climate, especially on winter precipitation, a significant improvement over coarse-resolution GCM simulations over the region.