Independent validation of downscaled climate estimates from a coastal Alaska watershed using local historical weather journals.

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Date: Sept. 10, 2021
From: PeerJ(Vol. 9)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 5,254 words
Lexile Measure: 1540L

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Abstract :

Downscaling coarse global and regional climate models allows researchers to access weather and climate data at finer temporal and spatial resolution, but there remains a need to compare these models with empirical data sources to assess model accuracy. Here, we validate a widely used software for generating North American downscaled climate data, ClimateNA, with a novel empirical data source, 20th century weather journals kept by Admiralty Island, Alaska homesteader, Allen Hasselborg. Using Hasselborg's journals, we calculated monthly precipitation and monthly mean of the maximum daily air temperature across the years 1926 to 1954 and compared these to ClimateNA data generated from the Hasselborg homestead location and adjacent areas. To demonstrate the utility and potential implications of this validation for other disciplines such as hydrology, we used an established regression equation to generate time series of 95% low duration flow estimates for the month of August using mean annual precipitation from ClimateNA predictions and Hasselborg data. Across 279 months, we found strong correlation between modeled and observed measurements of monthly precipitation ([rho]=0.74) and monthly mean of the maximum daily air temperature ([rho]=0.98). Monthly precipitation residuals (calculated as ClimateNA data - Hasselborg data) generally demonstrated heteroscedasticity around zero, but a negative trend in residual values starting during the last decade of observations may have been due to a shift to the cold-phase Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Air temperature residuals demonstrated a consistent but small positive bias, with ClimateNA tending to overestimate air temperature relative to Hasselborg's journals. The degree of correlation between weather patterns observed at the Hasselborg homestead site and ClimateNA data extracted from spatial grid cells across the region varied by wet and dry climate years. Monthly precipitation from both data sources tended to be more similar across a larger area during wet years (mean [rho] across grid cells = 0.73) compared to dry years (mean [rho] across grid cells = 0.65). The time series of annual 95% low duration flow estimates for the month of August generated using ClimateNA and Hasselborg data were moderately correlated ([rho]=0.55). Our analysis supports previous research in other regions which also found ClimateNA to be a robust source for past climate data estimates.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A674929215