Climate change in the northeastern US: regional climate model validation and climate change projections
A high resolution regional climate model (RCM) is used to simulate climate of the recent past and to project future climate change across the northeastern US. Different types of uncertainties in climate simulations are examined by driving the RCM with different boundary data, applying different emissions scenarios, and running an ensemble of simulations with different initial conditions. Empirical orthogonal functions analysis and K-means clustering analysis are applied to divide the northeastern US region into four climatologically different zones based on the surface air temperature (SAT) and precipitation variability. The RCM simulations tend to overestimate SAT, especially over the northern part of the domain in winter and over the western part in summer. Statistically significant increases in seasonal SAT under both higher and lower emissions scenarios over the whole RCM domain suggest the robustness of future warming. Most parts of the northeastern US region will experience increasing winter precipitation and decreasing summer precipitation, though the changes are not statistically significant. The greater magnitude of the projected temperature increase by the end of the twenty-first century under the higher emissions scenario emphasizes the essential role of emissions choices in determining the potential future climate change.