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  • Hayhoe, K., Wake, C., Anderson, B., Bradbury, J., DeGaetano, A., Liang, X.-Z., Zhu, J., Maurer, E. and Wuebbles, D., 2008: Translating Global Change into Regional Trends: Climate Drivers of Past and Future Trends in the U.S. Northeast. In preparation.

Climate projections are the cornerstone for assessing the potential impacts of change at the regional scale. Such regional assessments are sometimes questioned, however, by the perceived failure of global climate models to reproduce key processes responsible for regional trends. Here, we systematically compare observed climate over the U.S. Northeast (NE) with historical and future simulations from eight global models and two downscaling approaches to answer two key questions. First, to what degree are the global models able to simulate regional circulation patterns and their relationship to surface climate in the NE? How much confidence should we then place in future projections of climate change at the regional level? Some uncertainty remains to be resolved, particularly related to the influence of large-scale teleconnection patterns on surface climate characteristics over a topographically diverse region such as the NE. However, the primary changes projected to occur in climate over the next century namely, slightly greater temperature increases in summer as compared with winter, and increases in winter precipitation are consistent with projected trends in regional climate processes and are relatively independent of model or scale. Furthermore, downscaling produces accurate representations of temporal and spatial distributions of climate across the region. Together, these suggest confidence in the direction and potential range of the most notable regional climate trends, with the absolute magnitude of change depending on both the sensitivity of the climate system to human forcing as well as the emissions pathway we follow over the next century.

Last Updated: 2007-12-20

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