Evaluation of Downscaled Climate Modeling Techniques for the Northeast U.S.

Research Partners: 
Josh Rapp (Harvard Forest); Toni Lyn Morelli (UMass Amherst); Ambarish Karmalkar (UMass Amherst)
Project Fellows: 
Science Themes: 

Downscaling is the process of making a coarse-scale global climate model into a finer resolution in order to capture some of the localized detail that the coarse global models cannot resolve.  There are two general approaches of downscaling:  dynamical and statistical.  Within those, many dynamical models have been developed by different institutions, and there are a number of statistical algorithms that have been developed over the years.  Many past studies have evaluated the performance of these two broad approaches of downscaling with respect to climate variables (e.g., temperature, precipitation), but few have translated these evaluations to ecological metrics that managers use to make decisions in planning for climate change.  This study uses maple syrup production as a case study for evaluating how these two downscaling techniques perform in terms of projecting changes in the tapping season.   

Maple syrup producers are interested in how climate change will affect their industry.  Our results will give them a sense of the range they can expect for different aspects of the tapping season (timing of tap date, length of season, quality of sap, etc.).  However, producers are a secondary audience for this study.  The primary audience is the greater ecology community, as this will show the importance of careful selection of different climate modeling products and a sense of the limitations of different products.




  • Bryan, A. M., A sticky situation:  When maple syrup producers receive conflicting guidance from different climate models, NE CSC webinar, Mar 8, 2017.
  • Bryan, A. M., Confronting climate model uncertainty in management planning:  Lessons from maple syrup producers,  NE CSC Regional Science Meeting, poster, May 15, 2017.
  • Kearney, E., A. Bryan, A. Karmalkar, T. L. Morelli, When does choice of downscaling method matter in decision making?  A case study with maple syrup production, AGU Fall Meeting 2016, poster, Dec 12 2016.
  • Bryan, A. M., Different climate models, different forecasts:  When does it affect my decision?,  National Fellows Training, poster, Nov 2 2016.
  • Terando, A., A. Wootten, M. Eaton, M. Runge, J. Littell, A. Bryan, and S. Carter: Quantifying the Value of Downscaled Climate Model Information for Adaptation Decisions: When is Downscaling a Smart Decision?, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, 14 Dec 2015.