Climate change is negatively impacting water resources, agriculture and ecosystems in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Increasing temperatures are altering hydrological cycles, affecting crop productivity and biodiversity, changing ocean currents, and causing more frequent and extreme weather events, leading to more intense flooding and drought. Andean glaciers and páramos, vital sources of fresh water for tens of millions of people, are under severe threat. To meet these challenges, a new regional program has been launched by USAID entitled “Partnering for Adaptation and Resilience – Agua” (PARA-Agua) to work directly with scientists, decision-makers, and communities to strengthen watershed resilience to climate change impacts.
RAL contributes to this effort by developing climate information for pilot basin-scale applications. Regional climate data and projections from Global Climate Model results archived through the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report-5 (IPCC-AR5) are being assembled to create a rich data set for use in the evaluation of potential adaptation actions at the watershed scale. Together, these data and data processing techniques are yielding a collection of current and future climate projections that are un-biased, and suitable for use in hydrologic and water resources simulation models such as WEAP. Regional climate model results are being generated for the Northern Andes, with the datasets analyzed for their representativeness of the regional climate so that they may be adapted for use in other LAC sub-regions. In addition, RAL scientists are providing technical assistance in the use of the regional and global model scenarios and their associated data to populate WEAP models for future use by regional stakeholders.
A major accomplishment of this project is the development of a dataset that includes global bias corrected climate model output files from version 1 of NCAR's Community Earth System Model (CESM1) that participated in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Experiment (CMIP5), which supported the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5). The dataset contains all the variables needed for the initial and boundary conditions for simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) or the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS), provided in the Intermediate File Format specific to WRF and MPAS. The data are interpolated to 26 pressure levels and are provided in files at six hourly intervals. The variables have been bias corrected using the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Interim Reanalysis (ERA-Interim) fields for 1981-2005. Files are available for a 20th Century simulation (1951-2005) and three concomitant Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) future scenarios (RCP4.5, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) spanning 2006-2100. An NCAR technote is being written that describes this dataset: “A description of DS316.0, Global 6-hourly Bias-corrected CMIP5 CESM Files in WRF/MPAS Intermediate Format” by A. Monaghan, D. Steinhoff, C. Bruyere, and D. Yates. RAL staff conduct training workshops each year in Colombia for in-country scientific staff.