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Exploring objective climate classification for the Himalayan arc and adjacent regions using gridded data sources

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nathan ForsytheORCiD, Dr Stephen Blenkinsop, Professor Hayley Fowler



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


A three-step climate classification was applied to a spatial domain covering the Himalayan arc and adjacent plains regions using input data from four global meteorological reanalyses. Input variables were selected based on an understanding of the climatic drivers of regional water resource variability and crop yields. Principal component analysis (PCA) of those variables and k-means clustering on the PCA outputs revealed a reanalysis ensemble consensus for eight macro-climate zones. Spatial statistics of input variables for each zone revealed consistent, distinct climatologies. This climate classification approach has potential for enhancing assessment of climatic influences on water resources and food security as well as for characterising the skill and bias of gridded data sets, both meteorological reanalyses and climate models, for reproducing subregional climatologies. Through their spatial descriptors (area, geographic centroid, elevation mean range), climate classifications also provide metrics, beyond simple changes in individual variables, with which to assess the magnitude of projected climate change. Such sophisticated metrics are of particular interest for regions, including mountainous areas, where natural and anthropogenic systems are expected to be sensitive to incremental climate shifts.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Forsythe N, Blenkinsop S, Fowler HJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Earth System Dynamics

Year: 2015

Volume: 6

Issue: 1

Pages: 311-326

Online publication date: 28/05/2015

Acceptance date: 09/04/2015

Date deposited: 16/06/2015

ISSN (print): 2190-4979

ISSN (electronic): 2190-4987

Publisher: EGU/Copernicus


DOI: 10.5194/esd-6-311-2015


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Funder referenceFunder name
British Council (INSPIRE grant)
British Council (PMI2 grant)
US National Science Foundation (NSF)
Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC)
Leverhulme Trust
Wolfson Foundation
NE/D009588/1UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
WM140025Royal Society