SMHI first with new detailed climate simulations of Europe

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SMHI, is the first institute in the world to share its latest generation of detailed regional climate simulations covering Europe. The high resolution climate simulations provide an even greater wealth of detail than previously published material. The demand from impact researchers, among others, is considerable.

At SMHI’s climate research unit Rossby Centre, research staff have for two years been working on the development of new high resolution simulations of future climate for a number of regions in the world. Earlier this autumn, they published regional downscales with a resolution of 50 km, and it is now time for the next phase. The new climate simulations for Europe have a resolution of 12 km and have been performed in the context of the international cooperation EURO-CORDEX.

“We’ve been working for a long time on these simulations. They’ve required a lot of calculation time and there are many of us who have been involved in the work. Therefore, it is particularly gratifying that we have now come so far with the work that we can begin to share the material. And we are now looking forward to other institutes in Europe following up with more simulations that will further augment the material. There is an enormous demand, and it represents an important source of material for impact and climate adaptation work,” says Erik Kjellström, Head of SMHI’s climate research unit Rossby Centre.

Useful for impact studies

In a high resolution simulation, greater consideration is given to local and regional variations in the landscape, instead of dispersing the information as mean values over large areas. This means that details in the simulation of future climate will be presented more clearly. The research staff at SMHI have concentrated their work on five global climate models, which they have scaled down with Rossby Centre’s regional climate model, in a grid with 12 km-large boxes covering the whole of Europe. They have then calculated how the climate will be changed as a result of different future changes in the carbon dioxide concentration of the atmosphere.

“A higher resolution means that patterns emerge even more clearly in those areas with a complex topography, such as mountain ranges and coastal areas,” explains Grigory Nikolin, a climate researcher at SMHI’s Rossby Centre.

“We are not only the first to publish these high resolution calculations – we are also unique in that we have used so many global climate models in our simulations. This gives a material that will be even more useful in continued studies,” says Grigory Nikolin.

Detailed climate scenarios are important for impact and adaptation studies, as a basis for decisions on future adaptation to changes in the climate. Users are to be found in a wide range of sectors – from the energy supply sector to tourism.

More regional climate simulations can be expected

SMHI’s Rossby Centre will continue to publish regional high resolution, detailed climate simulations for more parts of the world in the future. Next in line after Europe are those regions that comprise the Middle East and North Africa, and these will be followed by detailed simulations of the Arctic areas.

Ten more institutes intend to publish high resolution climate simulations for both Europe and other parts of the world, which can be used together with the downscaled material from SMHI in further research, and for impact and adaptation studies.

The climate simulations have been conducted within the framework of the CORDEX Project.

Sweden's data node for CORDEX

SMHI’s climate simulations within the CORDEX Project are published on Sweden's data node within the Earth System Grid Federation, at Sweden's National Supercomputer Centre at Linköping University in cooperation with SMHI.

ESGF data node at SMHI-Linköping University-National Supercomputer Centre

Last updated 04 November 2013
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An example of how a higher resolution gives more detail in climate simulations. On the left, a simulation of precipitation in a 50 km-resolution, and on the right in a resolution of 12 km. The map on the right shows more details in areas with a varied topography, for example in areas with mountain ranges and in coastal locations. Note, for example, the wealth of detail along the mountain range in the western part of Scandinavia, the Alps in Central Europe, the Pyrenees in Spain, along the coast in Spain and Portugal, the coastal areas in the Balkans and along the west coast in Great Britain. Example from climate simulation of 20-year returning values of daily precipitation, control period 1971-2000 December-February
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If we look closer at Sweden, we can see that the photo on the right, which has a higher resolution, shows higher levels of precipitation on the Swedish West Coast and along the coast of northern Sweden, which concurs better with the observed climate. Example from climate simulation of 20-year returning values of daily precipitation, control period 1971-2000 December-February
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