Climate Model Projections for Canada: A Comparison of CMIP5 and CMIP6

S. R. Sobie, Francis W. Zwiers, Charles L. Curry

ABSTRACT Recent studies have identified stronger warming in the latest generation of climate model simulations globally, and the same is true for projected changes in Canada. This study examines differences for Canada and six sub-regions between simulations from the latest Sixth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) and its predecessor CMIP5. Ensembles from both experiments are assessed using a set of derived indices calculated from daily precipitation and temperature, with projections compared at fixed future time intervals and fixed levels of global temperature change. For changes calculated at fixed time intervals most temperature indices display higher projected changes in CMIP6 than CMIP5 for most sub-regions, while greater precipitation changes in CMIP6 occur mainly in extreme precipitation indices. When future projections are calculated at fixed levels of global average temperature increase, the size and spread of differences for future projected changes between CMIP6 and CMIP5 are substantially reduced for most indices. Temperature scaling behaviour, or the regional response to increasing global temperatures, is similar in both ensembles, with annual temperature anomalies for Canada and its sub-regions increasing at between 1.5 and 2.5 times the rate of increase globally, depending on the region. The CMIP6 ensemble projections exhibit modestly stronger scaling behaviour for temperature anomalies in northern Canada, as well as for certain indices of moderate and extreme events. Such temperature scaling differences persist even if anomalously warm CMIP6 global climate models are omitted. Comparing the mean and variance of future projections for Canada in CMIP5 and CMIP6 simulations from the same modelling centre suggests CMIP6 models are significantly warmer in Canada than CMIP5 models at the same level of forcing, with some evidence that internal temperature variability in CMIP6 is reduced compared with CMIP5.
S. R. Sobie, Francis W. Zwiers, and Charles L. Curry. 2021. Climate Model Projections for Canada: A Comparison of CMIP5 and CMIP6. Atmosphere-Ocean, Volume 59, Issue 4-5, 59(4-5):269–284.
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