An Assessment of Recent and Future Temperature Change over the Sichuan Basin, China, using CMIP5 Climate Models15 Aug 2017
The Sichuan basin is one of the most densely populated regions of China, making the area particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts associated with future climate change. As such, climate models are important for understanding regional and local impacts of climate change and variability, like heat stress and drought. In this study, climate models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are validated over the Sichuan basin by evaluating how well each model can capture the phase, amplitude, and variability of the regionally observed mean, maximum, and minimum temperature between 1979 and 2005. The results reveal that the majority of the models do not capture the basic spatial pattern and observed means, trends, and probability distribution functions. In particular, mean and minimum temperatures are underestimated, especially during the winter, resulting in biases exceeding −3°C. Models that reasonably represent the complex basin topography are found to generally have lower biases overall. The five most skillful climate models with respect to the regional climate of the Sichuan basin are selected to explore twenty-first-century temperature projections for the region. Under the CMIP5 high-emission future climate change scenario, representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5), the temperatures are projected to increase by approximately 4°C (with an average warming rate of +0.72°C decade−1), with the greatest warming located over the central plains of the Sichuan basin, by 2100. Moreover, the frequency of extreme months (where mean temperature exceeds 28°C) is shown to increase in the twenty-first century at a faster rate compared to the twentieth century.