Submitted as: model experiment description paper 10 Jan 2022

Submitted as: model experiment description paper | 10 Jan 2022

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Climate Projections over the Great Lakes Region: Using Two-way Coupling of a Regional Climate Model with a 3-D Lake Model

Pengfei Xue1,2,6,7, Xinyu Ye1,2, Jeremy S. Pal3,4, Philip Y. Chu5, Miraj B. Kayastha1, and Chenfu Huang2 Pengfei Xue et al.
  • 1Department of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI
  • 2Great Lakes Research Center, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI
  • 3Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
  • 4Risk Assessment and Adaptation Strategies Division, Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change and Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy
  • 5NOAA/Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • 6Environmental Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL
  • 7Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Abstract. Warming trends of the Laurentian Great Lakes and surrounding areas have been observed in recent decades, and concerns continue to rise about the pace and pattern of future climate change over the world’s largest freshwater system. To date, many regional climate models used for the Great Lakes projection either neglected the lake-atmosphere interactions or only coupled with 1-D column lake models to represent the lake hydrodynamics. The study presents the Great Lakes climate change projection that has employed the two-way coupling of a regional climate model with a 3-D lake model (GLARM) to resolve 3-D hydrodynamics important for large lakes. Using the three carefully selected CMIP5 AOGCMS, we show that the GLARM ensemble average substantially reduces the surface air temperature and precipitation biases of the driving AOGCM ensemble average in present-day climate simulations. The improvements are not only displayed from the atmospheric perspective but also evidenced in accurate simulations of lake surface temperature, and ice coverage and duration. After that, we present the GLARM projected climate change for the mid-21st century (2030–2049) and the late century (2080–2099) for the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. Under RCP 8.5, the Great Lakes basin is projected to warm by 1.3–2.2 °C by the mid-21st century and 4.0–4.9 °C by the end of the century relative to the early-century (2000–2019). Moderate mitigation (RCP 4.5) reduces the mid-century warming to 0.8–1.9 °C and late-century warming to 1.8–2.7 °C. Annual precipitation in GLARM is projected to increase for the entire basin, varying from −0.4 % to 10.5 % during the mid-century and 1.2 % to 28.5 % during the late-century under different scenarios and simulations. The most significant increases are projected in spring and early summer when current precipitation is highest and little increase in winter when it is lowest. Lake surface temperatures (LSTs) are also projected to increase across the five lakes in all of the simulations, but with strong seasonal and spatial heterogeneities. The most significant LST increase will occur in Lake Superior. The strongest warming was projected in spring, followed by strong summer warming, suggesting earlier and more intense stratification in the future. In contrast, a relatively smaller increase in LSTs during fall and winter are projected with heat transfer to the deepwater due to strong mixing and energy required for ice melting. Correspondingly, the highest monthly mean ice cover is projected to be 3–6 % and 8–20 % across the lakes by the end of the century in RCP 8.5 and RCP 4.5, respectively. In the coastal regions, ice duration will decrease by up to 30–50 days.

Pengfei Xue et al.

Status: open (until 07 Mar 2022)

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Pengfei Xue et al.

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Short summary
The Great Lakes are the world's largest freshwater system. They are a key element in regional climate and influence local weather patterns and climate processes. Many of these complex processes are regulated by interactions among the atmosphere, lake, ice, and surrounding land areas. This study presents the climate change projections including both the Great Lakes basin and the changes in the five Great Lakes for the mid-21st century and the late century.