Getting Collaborative About Climate


An international group of researchers, including U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, constructed a systematic examination of regional-scale climate models and their projections for North America. Using a multimodel ensemble approach, they compared the results of physical climate process models on a regional scale to precipitation and temperature observational data. The controlled baseline data showed that the ensemble results mostly outperformed any single model. The researchers organized the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) to evaluate temperature and precipitation results from six regional climate models over 1980–2004. For the first time in model assessments over North America, the international team adopted metrics to evaluate specific features of different models. Establishing common protocols in a controlled set of experiments, they came up with a baseline to compare each model’s results. Their comparison showed that while no single model stood out, working in ensemble the models often returned the best results compared to observational data. The NARCCAP effort provided a unique opportunity to systematically compare and evaluate North American regional model data. The work was featured in the cover story of the October issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.


Mearns, L. O., R. Arritt, S. Biner, M. Bukowsky, S. McGinnis, S. Sain, D. Caya, J. Correia, D. Flory, W. Gutowski, E. S. Takle, R. Jones, R. Leung, W. Moufouma-Okia, L. McDaniel, A. M. B. Nunes, Y. Qian, J. Roads, L. Sloan, and M. Snyder. 2012. β€œThe North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program: Overview of Phase I Results,” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 93(9), 1337–62. DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00223.1.