Stochastic model output statistics for bias correcting and downscaling precipitation including extremes

Geraldine Wong, Douglas Maraun, Mathieu Vrac, Martin Widmann, Jonathan M. Eden, Thomas Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Precipitation is highly variable in space and time; hence, rain gauge time series generally exhibit additional random small-scale variability compared to area averages. Therefore, differences between daily precipitation statistics simulated by climate models and gauge observations are generally not only caused by model biases, but also by the corresponding scale gap. Classical bias correction methods, in general, cannot bridge this gap; they do not account for small-scale random variability and may produce artifacts. Here, stochastic model output statistics is proposed as a bias correction framework to explicitly account for random small-scale variability. Daily precipitation simulated by a regional climate model (RCM) is employed to predict the probability distribution of local precipitation. The pairwise correspondence between predictor and predictand required for calibration is ensured by driving the RCM with perfect boundary conditions. Wet day probabilities are described by a logistic regression, and precipitation intensities are described by a mixture model consisting of a gamma distribution for moderate precipitation and a generalized Pareto distribution for extremes. The dependence of the model parameters on simulated precipitation is modeled by a vector generalized linear model. The proposed model effectively corrects systematic biases and correctly represents local-scale random variability for most gauges. Additionally, a simplified model is considered that disregards the separate tail model. This computationally efficient model proves to be a feasible alternative for precipitation up to moderately extreme intensities. The approach sets a new framework for bias correction that combines the advantages of weather generators and RCMs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6940-6959
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number18
Early online date10 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • extreme events
  • precipitation
  • bias
  • model output statistics
  • regional models
  • stochastic models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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