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Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering >> 2017, Volume 4, Issue 4 doi: 10.15302/J-FASE-2017172

ClimateAP: an application for dynamic local downscaling of historical and future climate data in Asia Pacific

. Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.. Department of Forest Resource Management, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environment Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China

Accepted: 2017-11-22 Available online:2017-12-10

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Abstract

While low-to-moderate resolution gridded climate data are suitable for climate-impact modeling at global and ecosystems levels, spatial analyses conducted at local scales require climate data with increased spatial accuracy. This is particularly true for research focused on the evaluation of adaptive forest management strategies. In this study, we developed an application, ClimateAP, to generate scale-free (i.e., specific to point locations) climate data for historical (1901–2015) and future (2011–2100) years and periods. ClimateAP uses the best available interpolated climate data for the reference period 1961–1990 as baseline data. It downscales the baseline data from a moderate spatial resolution to scale-free point data through dynamic local elevation adjustments. It also integrates and downscales the historical and future climate data using a delta approach. In the case of future climate data, two greenhouse gas representative concentration pathways (RCP 4.5 and 8.5) and 15 general circulation models are included to allow for the assessment of alternative climate scenarios. In addition, ClimateAP generates a large number of biologically relevant climate variables derived from primary monthly variables. The effectiveness of the local downscaling was determined based on the strength of the local linear regression for the estimate of lapse rate. The accuracy of the ClimateAP output was evaluated through comparisons of ClimateAP output against observations from 1805 weather stations in the Asia Pacific region. The local linear regression explained 70%–80% and 0%–50% of the total variation in monthly temperatures and precipitation, respectively, in most cases. ClimateAP reduced prediction error by up to 27% and 60% for monthly temperature and precipitation, respectively, relative to the original baselines data. The improvements for baseline portions of historical and future were more substantial. Applications and limitations of the software are discussed.

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