4 years ago

Interannual and low-frequency variability of Upper Indus Basin winter/spring precipitation in observations and CMIP5 models

Andrew W. Robertson, Arthur M. Greene


An assessment is made of the ability of general circulation models in the CMIP5 ensemble to reproduce observed modes of low-frequency winter/spring precipitation variability in the region of the Upper Indus basin (UIB) in south-central Asia. This season accounts for about two thirds of annual precipitation totals in the UIB and is characterized by “western disturbances” propagating along the eastward extension of the Mediterranean storm track. Observational data are utilized for for spatiotemporal characterization of the precipitation seasonal cycle, to compute seasonalized spectra and finally, to examine teleconnections, in terms of large-scale patterns in sea-surface temperature (SST) and atmospheric circulation. Annual and lowpassed variations are found to be associated primarily with SST modes in the tropical and extratropical Pacific. A more obscure link to North Atlantic SST, possibly related to the North Atlantic Oscillation, is also noted. An ensemble of 31 CMIP5 models is then similarly assessed, using unforced preindustrial multi-century control runs. Of these models, eight are found to reproduce well the two leading modes of the observed seasonal cycle. This model subset is then assessed in the spectral domain and with respect to teleconnection patterns, where a range of behaviors is noted. Two model families each account for three members of this subset. The degree of within-family similarity in behavior is shown to reflect underlying model differences. The results provide estimates of unforced regional hydroclimate variability over the UIB on interannual and decadal scales and the corresponding far-field influences, and are of potential relevance for the estimation of uncertainties in future water availability.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00382-017-3571-7

DOI: 10.1007/s00382-017-3571-7

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