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Assessment of the performance of CORDEX Regional Climate Models in Simulating East African Rainfall

This study evaluates the ability of 10 regional climate models (RCMs) from the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) in simulating the characteristics of rainfall patterns over eastern Africa. The seasonal climatology, annual rainfall cycles, and interannual variability of RCM output have been assessed over three homogeneous subregions against a number of observational datasets. The ability of the RCMs in simulating large-scale global climate forcing signals is further assessed by compositing the El Ni~no–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) events. It is found that most RCMs reasonably simulate the main features of the rainfall climatology over the three subregions and also reproduce the majority of the documented regional responses to ENSO and IOD forcings. At the same time the analysis shows significant biases in individual models depending on subregion and season; however, the ensemble mean has better agreement with observation than individual models. In general, the analysis herein demonstrates that the multimodel ensemble mean simulates eastern Africa rainfall adequately and can therefore be used for the assessment of future climate projections for the region.