Climate variability and trends in downscaled high-resolution simulations and projections over Metropolitan France
In order to fulfill the society demand for climate information at the spatial scale allowing impact studies, long-term high-resolution climate simulations are produced, over an area covering metropolitan France. One of the major goals of this article is to investigate whether such simulations appropriately simulate the spatial and temporal variability of the current climate, using two simulation chains. These start from the global IPSL-CM4 climate model, using two regional models (LMDz and MM5) at moderate resolution (15-20 km), followed with a statistical downscaling method in order to reach a target resolution of 8 km. The statistical downscaling technique includes a non-parametric method that corrects the distribution by using high-resolution analyses over France. First the uncorrected simulations are evaluated against a set of high-resolution analyses, with a focus on temperature and precipitation. Uncorrected downscaled temperatures suffer from a cold bias that is present in the global model as well. Precipitations biases have a season- and model-dependent behavior. Dynamical models overestimate rainfall but with different patterns and amplitude, but both have underestimations in the South-Eastern area (Cevennes mountains) in winter. A variance decomposition shows that uncorrected simulations fairly well capture observed variances from inter-annual to high-frequency intra-seasonal time scales. After correction, distributions match with analyses by construction, but it is shown that spatial coherence, persistence properties of warm, cold and dry episodes also match to a certain extent. Another aim of the article is to describe the changes for future climate obtained using these simulations under Scenario A1B. Results are presented on the changes between current and mid-term future (2021-2050) averages and variability over France. Interestingly, even though the same global climate model is used at the boundaries, regional climate change responses from the two models significantly differ.