Tuesday 12 Nov 2013Climatic data downscaling, to do or not to do?

Dr Yunqing Xuan - College of Engineering, Swansea University

Harrison 170 14:00-15:00

The strong willingness of water-modelling communities to the study of climate change impact, has never been higher as the IPCC’s AR5 comprehensive reports due date is approaching. In order to bridge the tremendous scale gap between the climate models that are used to produced the IPCC analyses for example, and those hydro-models for modelling runoff process, flood inundation, urban drainage etc., the so-called Data Downscaling procedure becomes a shared feature and common practices in such context and many impact studies. With the downscaling methods/tools (be it dynamical one or statistical one), water modellers are now able to enjoy the fact that they can model the climate change impact nearly straight away – without changing too much of their weaponries (original models), by just introducing the downscaled climatic data into the scene; although admittedly, they may very often be troubled with the uncertainty/error issues accompanying with this procedure.

In this talk, I will start with a review of current available methods of climatic data downscaling and their applications in hydro-modelling domain, focusing on the very methodological view shared by these tools. I will then go through some important issues associated with this complicated and unfortunate (climate model – hydromodel) coupling scenario revealing some unpleasant implications. Finally I will cast some doubts onto this commonly used approach and argue for an overhaul of the entire methodology for the impact studies in water domain.

About the speaker
Yunqing was initially a hydrologist and civil engineer by training. He spent some time at McGill university, Canada studying quantitative precipitation forecast for hydrological before working towards his PhD at Bristol focusing on hydro-meteorological modelling in flood risk management. His previous stop was at UNESCO-IHE, Delft, teaching and offering training and advisory to professionals from various International organization on topics of hydroinformatics, climate change and hydrological modelling. He now enjoys the beautiful Welsh beaches at Swansea University as a senior lecturer. His current research interest includes radar hydrology and hydro-meteorological modelling for extreme weather studies. Apart from teaching, he now supervises a KTP project as the PI aiming to “Port the Met Office Model to Support Welsh Extreme Weather Initiative” (2013-2016).

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