A comparison of downscaling techniques in the projection of local climate change and wheat yields

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Journal Article
Climatic Change, 2013, 120 (1-2), pp. 249 - 261
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This study aims to evaluate the performance of two mainstream downscaling techniques: statistical and dynamical downscaling and to compare the differences in their projection of future climate change and the resultant impact on wheat crop yields for three locations across New South Wales, Australia. Bureau of Meteorology statistically- and CSIRO dynamically-downscaled climate, derived or driven by the CSIRO Mk 3.5 coupled general circulation model, were firstly evaluated against observed climate data for the period 1980-1999. Future climate projections derived from the two downscaling approaches for the period centred on 2055 were then compared. A stochastic weather generator, LARS-WG, was used in this study to derive monthly climate changes and to construct climate change scenarios. The Agricultural Production System sIMulator-Wheat model was then combined with the constructed climate change scenarios to quantify the impact of climate change on wheat grain yield. Statistical results show that (1) in terms of reproducing the past climate, statistical downscaling performed better over dynamical downscaling in most of the cases including climate variables, their mean, variance and distribution, and study locations, (2) there is significant difference between the two downscaling techniques in projected future climate change except the mean value of rainfall across the three locations for most of the months; and (3) there is significant difference in projected wheat grain yields between the two downscaling techniques at two of the three locations.
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