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Title: Biased Estimates of Changes in Climate Extremes From Prescribed SST Simulations

Abstract

Large climate model ensembles are widely used to quantify changes in climate extremes. Here we demonstrate that model-based estimates of changes in the probability of temperature extremes at 1.5°C global warming regionally differ if quantified using prescribed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) instead of using a fully coupled climate model. Based on the identical climate model used in two experimental setups, we demonstrate that particularly over the tropics and Australia estimates of the changes in the odds of annual temperature extremes can be up to more than a factor of 5 to 10 larger using prescribed SSTs rather than a fully coupled model configuration. The two experimental designs imply a different perspective on framing projections. If experiments conditional on prescribed observed SSTs are interpreted as unconditional real-world projections, they project changes in extremes that are systematically biased high and overconfident. Our results illustrate the importance of carefully considering experimental design when interpreting projections of extremes.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. ETH Zurich Inst. for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Zurich (Switzerland)
  2. Climate Analytics, Berlin (Germany); Potsdam Inst. for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam (Germany); Humboldt Univ. of Berlin (Germany)
  3. ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Sydney (Australia), Univ. of Melbourne (Australia). School of Earth Sciences
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1544225
Grant/Contract Number:  
01LS1613A; CE170100023; DE180100638
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 45; Journal Issue: 16; Journal ID: ISSN 0094-8276
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Fischer, E. M., Beyerle, U., Schleussner, C. F., King, A. D., and Knutti, R. Biased Estimates of Changes in Climate Extremes From Prescribed SST Simulations. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1029/2018GL079176.
Fischer, E. M., Beyerle, U., Schleussner, C. F., King, A. D., & Knutti, R. Biased Estimates of Changes in Climate Extremes From Prescribed SST Simulations. United States. doi:10.1029/2018GL079176.
Fischer, E. M., Beyerle, U., Schleussner, C. F., King, A. D., and Knutti, R. Sun . "Biased Estimates of Changes in Climate Extremes From Prescribed SST Simulations". United States. doi:10.1029/2018GL079176. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1544225.
@article{osti_1544225,
title = {Biased Estimates of Changes in Climate Extremes From Prescribed SST Simulations},
author = {Fischer, E. M. and Beyerle, U. and Schleussner, C. F. and King, A. D. and Knutti, R.},
abstractNote = {Large climate model ensembles are widely used to quantify changes in climate extremes. Here we demonstrate that model-based estimates of changes in the probability of temperature extremes at 1.5°C global warming regionally differ if quantified using prescribed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) instead of using a fully coupled climate model. Based on the identical climate model used in two experimental setups, we demonstrate that particularly over the tropics and Australia estimates of the changes in the odds of annual temperature extremes can be up to more than a factor of 5 to 10 larger using prescribed SSTs rather than a fully coupled model configuration. The two experimental designs imply a different perspective on framing projections. If experiments conditional on prescribed observed SSTs are interpreted as unconditional real-world projections, they project changes in extremes that are systematically biased high and overconfident. Our results illustrate the importance of carefully considering experimental design when interpreting projections of extremes.},
doi = {10.1029/2018GL079176},
journal = {Geophysical Research Letters},
number = 16,
volume = 45,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {8}
}

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