We assess the statistics of different daily precipitation indices in ensembles of Med-CORDEX and EURO-CORDEX experiments at high resolution (grid spacing of ~0.11°, or RCM11) and medium resolution (grid spacing of ~0.44°, or RCM44) with regional climate models (RCMs) driven by the ERA-Interim reanalysis of observations for the period 1989–2008. The assessment is carried out by comparison with a set of high resolution observation datasets for nine European subregions. The statistics analyzed include quantitative metrics for mean precipitation, daily precipitation probability density functions (PDFs), daily precipitation intensity, frequency, 95th percentile and 95th percentile of dry spell length. We assess an ensemble including all Med-CORDEX and EURO-CORDEX models together and others including the Med-CORDEX and EURO-CORDEX separately. For the All Models ensembles, the RCM11 one shows a remarkable performance in reproducing the spatial patterns and seasonal cycle of mean precipitation over all regions, with a consistent and marked improvement compared to the RCM44 ensemble and the ERA-Interim reanalysis. A good consistency with observations by the RCM11 ensemble (and a substantial improvement compared to RCM44 and ERA-Interim) is found also for the daily precipitation PDFs, mean intensity and, to a lesser extent, the 95th percentile. A general improvement by the RCM11 models is also found when the data are upscaled and intercompared at the 0.44° and 1.5° resolutions. For some regions the RCM11 ensemble overestimates the occurrence of very high intensity events while for one region the models underestimate the occurrence of the most intense extremes. The RCM11 ensemble still shows a general tendency to underestimate the dry day frequency and 95th percentile of dry spell length over wetter regions, with only a marginal improvement compared to the lower resolution models. This indicates that the problem of the excessive production of low precipitation events found in many climate models persists also at relatively high resolutions, at least in wet climate regimes. Concerning the Med-CORDEX and EURO-CORDEX ensembles we find that their performance is of similar quality over the Mediterranean regions analyzed. Finally, we stress the need of consistent and quality checked fine scale observation datasets for the assessment of RCMs run at increasingly high horizontal resolutions.
First online in 2016, so can be seen cited also as that. This was the Climate Dynamics Med-CORDEX special issue.