Can a climate model reproduce extreme regional precipitation events over England and Wales?

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Pearson, K. J. ; Shaffrey, L. C. ; Methven, J. ; Hodges, K. I. (2014)

The ability of the HiGEM climate model to represent high-impact, regional, precipitation events is investigated in two ways. The first focusses on a case study of extreme regional accumulation of precipitation during the passage of a summer extra-tropical cyclone across southern England on 20 July 2007 that resulted in a national flooding emergency. The climate model is compared with a global Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) model and higher resolution, nested limited area models. While the climate model does not simulate the timing and location of the cyclone and associated precipitation as accurately as the NWP simulations, the total accumulated precipitation in all models is similar to the rain gauge estimate across \ud England and Wales. The regional accumulation over the event is insensitive to horizontal resolution for grid spacings ranging from 90km to 4km.\ud \ud Secondly, the free-running climate model reproduces the statistical distribution of daily precipitation accumulations observed in the England-Wales precipitation record. The model distribution diverges increasingly from the record for longer accumulation periods with a consistent under-representation of more intense multi-day accumulations. This may indicate a lack of low-frequency variability associated with weather regime persistence. Despite this, the overall seasonal and annual precipitation totals from the model are still comparable to those from ERA-Interim.
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