Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Settled science: 48% of models predict a drier California in 2060, 52% predict wetter

A paper published today in the Journal of Climate examines the output of 25 climate models for projected precipitation in California and finds little consensus, stating that "12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter." The paper adds to many other peer-reviewed papers demonstrating the failure of climate models to predict known temperatures of the past, much less the future, as well as an inability to even agree on the sign of future precipitation, the effect of clouds, ocean oscillations, solar activity, winds, internal waves, etc, etc.

The key role of heavy precipitation events in climate model disagreements of future annual precipitation changes in California

David W. Pierce,1,* Daniel R. Cayan,1 Tapash Das,1,6 Edwin P. Maurer,2 Norman L. Miller,3 Yan Bao,3 M.Kanamitsu,1,+ Kei Yoshimura,1 Mark A. Snyder,4 Lisa C. Sloan,4 Guido Franco,5 and Mary Tyree1
1 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA
2 Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
3 University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
4 University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
5 California Energy Commission, Sacramento, CA
6 CH2M HILL, Inc., San Diego, CA

Climate model simulations disagree on whether future precipitation will increase or decrease over California, which has impeded efforts to anticipate and adapt to human-induced climate change. This disagreement is explored in terms of daily precipitation frequency and intensity. It is found that divergent model projections of changes in the incidence of rare heavy (> 60 mm/day) daily precipitation events explain much of the model disagreement on annual timescales, yet represent only 0.3% of precipitating days and 9% of annual precipitation volume. Of the 25 downscaled model projections we examine, 21 agree that precipitation frequency will decrease by the 2060s, with a mean reduction of 6-14 days/year. This reduces California’s mean annual precipitation by about 5.7%. Partly offsetting this, 16 of the 25 projections agree that daily precipitation intensity will increase, which accounts for a model average 5.3% increase in annual precipitation. Between these conflicting tendencies, 12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter. These results are obtained from sixteen global general circulation models downscaled with different combinations of dynamical methods (WRF, RSM, and RegCM3) and statistical methods (BCSD and BCCA), although not all downscaling methods were applied to each global model. Model disagreements in the projected change in occurrence of the heaviest precipitation days (> 60 mm/day) account for the majority of disagreement in the projected change in annual precipitation, and occur preferentially over the Sierra Nevada and Northern California. When such events are excluded, nearly twice as many projections show drier future conditions.


  1. These predictions are perfect for the alarmists. If California gets some heavy rains, they will be able to claim that climate models predicted this correctly and they will cite this peer reviewed paper. If California gets a drought they will be able to claim the models predicted it correctly and again they will cite this peer reviewed paper. If California gets anything in between, they can claim the predictions are correct and they will cite this peer reviewed paper. Its perfect.


  2. This way scientists can always say, "This is exactly what we said would happen" years from now.