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The effects of climate model similarity on probabilistic climate projections and the implications for local, risk-based adaptation planning

TitleThe effects of climate model similarity on probabilistic climate projections and the implications for local, risk-based adaptation planning
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSteinschneider S, McCrary R, Mearns LO, Brown C
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume42
Issue12
Start Page5014
Pagination5014–5044
Date Published06/2015
KeywordsDecision making under uncertainty, Global climate models, Impacts of global change, Regional climate change
Abstract

Approaches for probability density function (pdf) development of future climate often assume that different climate models provide independent information, despite model similarities that stem from a common genealogy (models with shared code or developed at the same institution). Here we use an ensemble of projections from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 to develop probabilistic climate information, with and without an accounting of intermodel correlations, for seven regions across the United States. We then use the pdfs to estimate midcentury climate-related risks to a water utility in one of the regions. We show that the variance of climate changes is underestimated across all regions if model correlations are ignored, and in some cases, the mean change shifts as well. When coupled with impact models of the hydrology and infrastructure of a water utility, the underestimated likelihood of large climate changes significantly alters the quantification of risk for water shortages by midcentury.

DOI10.1002/2015GL064529