24 Feb 2023
 | 24 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Climate model Selection by Independence, Performance, and Spread (ClimSIPS) for regional applications

Anna Louise Merrifield, Lukas Brunner, Ruth Lorenz, Vincent Humphrey, and Reto Knutti

Abstract. As the number of models in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) archives increase from generation to generation, there is a pressing need for guidance on how to interpret and best use the abundance of newly available climate information. CMIP6 users seeking to draw conclusions about model agreement must contend with an "ensemble of opportunity" containing similar models that appear under different names. Those who used CMIP5 as a basis for downstream applications must filter through hundreds of new CMIP6 simulations to find several best suited to their region, season, and climate horizon of interest. Here we present methods to address both issues, model dependence and model subselection, to help users previously anchored in CMIP5 to navigate CMIP6. In Part I, we refine a definition of model dependence based on climate output, initially employed in Climate model Weighting by Independence and Performance (ClimWIP), to designate discrete model families within CMIP5/6. We show that the increased presence of model families in CMIP6 bolsters the upper mode of the ensemble's bimodal effective Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) distribution. Accounting for the mismatch in representation between model families and individual model runs shifts the CMIP6 ECS median and 75th percentile down by 0.43 °C, achieving better alignment with CMIP5's ECS distribution.

In Part II, we present a new, cost-function minimization-based approach to model subselection, Climate model Selection by Independence, Performance, and Spread (ClimSIPS), that selects sets of CMIP models based on the relative importance a user ascribes to model independence (as defined in Part I), model performance, and ensemble spread in projected climate outcome. We demonstrate ClimSIPS by selecting sets of three to five models from CMIP5/6 for European applications, evaluating the performance from the agreement with the observed mean climate, and the spread in outcome from the projected midcentury change in surface air temperature and precipitation. To accommodate different use cases, we explore two ways to represent models with multiple members in ClimSIPS, first, by ensemble mean and second, by an individual ensemble member that maximizes midcentury change diversity within CMIP overall. Because different combinations of models are selected by the cost function for different balances of independence, performance, and spread priority, we present all selected subsets in ternary contour "subselection triangles" and guide users with recommendations based on further qualitative independence, performance, and spread standards. In CMIP6, we find that recommended subsets are populated primarily by members of several model families defined in Part I due to an inverse relationship between performance and independence. In CMIP5, recommended subsets feature model combinations used in the European branch of the Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (EURO-CORDEX), suggesting the independence, performance, and spread metrics used in ClimSIPS are appropriate for European applications in CMIP6 and beyond.

Anna Louise Merrifield et al.

Status: open (until 21 Apr 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Anna Louise Merrifield et al.

Data sets

Predictors for ClimSIPS Anna Merrifield

Model code and software

CMIP_subselection (v1.0) Anna Merrifield and Mario Könz

ClimSIPS (v1.0.0) Anna Merrifield and Mario Könz

Anna Louise Merrifield et al.


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Short summary
Using all Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) models is unfeasible for many applications. We provide a subselection protocol that balances user needs for model independence, performance, and spread capturing CMIP’s projection uncertainty simultaneously for the first time. We show how sets of 3–5 models selected for European applications map to user priorities. An audit of model independence and its influence on equilibrium climate sensitivity uncertainty in CMIP is also presented.