EGU2020-16129, updated on 14 Jan 2022
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Quantifying the added value of downscaling in extreme precipitation attribution

Jonathan Eden1 and Bastien Dieppois1,2
Jonathan Eden and Bastien Dieppois
  • 1Coventry University, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry, UK (
  • 2Department of Oceanography, MARE Institute, University of Cape Town, RSA

While there is a discernible global warming fingerprint in the increase observed daily temperature extremes, there is far greater uncertainty of the role played by anthropogenic climate change with regard to extreme precipitation. A logical progression of thought is that an increase in extreme precipitation results from the 7% increase in atmospheric moisture per 1°C global temperature increase predicted by the Clausius-Clapeyron (CC) relation.  While this is supported by observations on the global scale, rates of extreme precipitation at smaller spatial and temporal scales are influenced to a far greater extent by atmospheric circulation and vertical stability in addition to local moisture availability. Many of these processes and other features of extreme precipitation events are not sufficiently represented in general circulation model (GCM) simulations. Meanwhile, limited observational networks mean that many short-term convective events are not accurately represented in the observational data.  

Errors and biases are common to all global and regional climate models, and many users of climate information require some form of statistical correction to improve the usefulness of model output. As so-called bias correction has become commonplace in climate impact research, its development has been hastened by a sustained debate regarding model correction in general leading to techniques that merge statistical correction and downscaling, represent random variability using stochasticity and are explicitly applicable to extremes. To date, attribution of extreme precipitation has not fully utilised the tools available from recent advances in bias correction, stochastic postprocessing and statistical downscaling. In the same way that GCMs are the most important tool in making climate change projections, understanding the degree to which the nature of a particular weather event has changed due to global warming requires long-term simulations of global climate from the pre-industrial era to the present day.  The lack of a correction and/or downscaling step in almost all precipitation event attribution methodologies is therefore surprising. 

Here, we present a multi-scale attribution analysis of a sample of extreme precipitation events across Europe using a blend of observation- and model-based data. Attribution information generated using the raw output of global and regional climate model ensembles will be compared to that generated using the same set of models following a statistical postprocessing and downscaling step. Our conclusions will make recommendations for the value and wider application of downscaling methodologies in attribution science.

How to cite: Eden, J. and Dieppois, B.: Quantifying the added value of downscaling in extreme precipitation attribution, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-16129,, 2020.


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