Regional climate models (RCMs) are commonly used to provide detailed regional to local information for climate change assessments, impact studies, and work on climate change adaptation. The Baltic Sea region is well suited for RCM evaluation due to its complexity and good availability of observations.
Evaluation of RCM performance over the Baltic Sea region suggests that:
• Given appropriate boundary conditions, RCMs can reproduce many aspects of the climate in the Baltic Sea region.
• High resolution improves the ability of RCMs to simulate significant processes in a realistic way.
• When forced by global climate models (GCMs) with errors in their representation of the large-scale atmospheric circulation and/or sea surface conditions, performance of RCMs deteriorates.
• Compared to GCMs, RCMs can add value on the regional scale, related to both the atmosphere and other parts of the climate system, such as the Baltic Sea, if appropriate coupled regional model systems are used.
Future directions for regional climate modeling in the Baltic Sea region would involve testing and applying even more high-resolution, convection permitting, models to generally better represent climate features like heavy precipitation extremes. Also, phenomena more specific to the Baltic Sea region are expected to benefit from higher resolution (these include, for example, convective snowbands over the sea in winter). Continued work on better describing the fully coupled regional climate system involving the atmosphere and its interaction with the sea surface and land areas is also foreseen as beneficial. In this respect, atmospheric aerosols are important components that deserve more attention.