Newly developed precipitation model in NATURE’s Scientific Reports

Wednesday 16 Mar 16
by Jesper Spangsmark


Morten Andreas Dahl Larsen
Senior Researcher
DTU Management
+45 25 11 98 95
Morten A. D. Larsen from DTU Management Engineering is the first author of the article and is part of the HYACINTS research project, which was headed by Research Professor Jens Christian Refsgaard from GEUS. 

Just published in Scientific Reports from Nature Publishing Group, a new Danish study couples calculation models to perform better forecasts of cloudbursts, long-term rainfall, and flooding. Forecasts which are central for climate adaptation and agriculture in Denmark and worldwide.

“Detailed models for future hydrology and climate are critical to understanding how climate change is affecting our water resources, ecosystems, and food safety. The same applies to our fundamental understanding of extreme events such as flooding and drought, which—as we know—are expected to become more frequent and/or heavier in many places in the future,” says Morten Andreas Dahl Larsen, Postdoc at Systems Analysis, DTU Management Engineering, who, together with researchers from GEUS, DMI, DHI, and the University of Copenhagen, is one of the researchers behind the calculations—and thus also the actual article in Nature Scientific Reports.

Detailed climate forecasts crucial for climate efforts
Existing calculations and forecasts clearly show that the water cycle in Denmark will be significantly affected by climate change. We will have to address issues such as flooding and scarcity of water more frequently in the future—also in Denmark.

“But without precise forecasts for when, how much, and how, it is impossible to know how to actually prepare ourselves for the consequences of climate change,” explains Morten A. D. Larsen.

Coupling of models improving forecasts
Therefore, it is also much more than a scientific exercise in advanced mathematics, when the researchers behind the article deliver significant improvements in the simulation of precipitation by including the entire hydrological cycle (water cycle) with an unprecedented level of detail for climate modelling.

The researchers behind the article have developed a completely new model as part of the HYACINTS research project, which is headed by Professor Jens Christian Refsgaard from GEUS (Geological Survey of Greenland and Denmark). A prototype, the model has here, among other things, been used to investigate the potential of improving the coupling between hydrology and climate.

“What makes these results scientifically unique is that we have succeeded in making a model system with state-of-the-art descriptions of the entire water cycle—from the deep groundwater to the top of the atmosphere—and that it provides significantly improved results to include groundwater in the calculations. The scientific perspective in this is that the climate models used by the international community for climate projections can be made more precise, and we can therefore produce climate projections with a higher level of certainty than is the case today,” says Research Professor Jens Christian Refsgaard from GEUS." (Source: