Many websites and servers allow you to download the full gridded datasets of GCM projections of future climate. Most are intended for use by researchers and only have data available in formats that require specialized software to open and analyze.
We highlight two portals that allow you to download the most often-used downscaled CMIP5 datasets (MACA, LOCA, BCCA, BCSD), in multiple file formats, including text files (ASCII/CSV) that are easier for many users to open and view. Both portals have interactive tools that allow selection of specific areas (e.g., counties) for which to download data.
The two portals described below provide contiguous U.S. coverage and downloads of full or selected daily/monthly data from at least one dataset of downscaled CMIP5 projections:
Also see our comparison table to compare features of these portals in relation to the other climate change information.
(Green Data Oasis – Downscaled Climate and Hydrology Projections) – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and partners
Download tool that provides access to point and area-averaged data from multiple downscaled CMIP5 datasets: LOCA, BCSD, BCCAv2.
Straightforward selection of areas (watershed of any scale, rectangular area) and points; can select only the variables needed; LOCA-VIC hydrology includes many useful variables
Lag time of minutes to hours for data to be retrieved and FTP link sent to requestor; LOCA data (daily) may have to be split into multiple requests to stay under the size limit; no monthly-averaged option for the daily datasets to make file sizes more manageable
CMIP5 Projection datasets:
LOCA climate: 32 models; RCP4.5, 8.5; 64 projections
LOCA-VIC hydrology: 32 models; RCP4.5, 8.5; 64 projections
BCSD climate: 37 models, RCP2.6, 4.5, 6.0, 8.5; 234 projections
BCSD-VIC hydrology: 37 models; RCP2.6, 4.5, 6.0, 8.5; 97 projections
BCCAv2 climate: 37 models, RCP2.6, 4.5, 6.0, 8.5, 143 projections
Tave (BCSD only), Tmax, Tmin, Precipitation, Wind (BCSD hydrology only)
Hydrology (Soil Moisture, SWE, Runoff, AET, PET; LOCA-VIC also includes Humidity, Heat Flux, Radiation, Snowfall, Sublimation)
Each selection option has a (?) button to provide guidance about that option. Tutorials on requesting BCCA climate and BCSD climate and hydrology are accessible from the upper-left menu; while these tutorials are based on the CMIP3 datasets and options, they are generally applicable to the CMIP5 datasets and also to the LOCA datasets.
If CMIP5-BCSD Climate is selected as the Projection Set, one of the options is “1 degree Regridded GCM projections.” These are “raw” GCM projections without bias correction or downscaling, and can be used to compare with the downscaled projections–whether BCSD, BCCA, or LOCA–to isolate the effects of downscaling on the underlying GCM climate change signal.
MACA Download Tools
University of California Merced
A set of download tools that provide access to user-selected subsets of data from the CMIP5 MACA climate dataset:
- The Design-Your-Own-CSV Tool handles point data downloads
- The MACA Data Portal handles downloads of gridded/raster data for rectangular subsets of the full CONUS download
- The Geo Data Portal Tutorial and OPeNDAP Tutorial provide guidance in downloading data subsets from within a software program (R, Python or MATLAB)
Note that the full daily/monthly MACA data for a point location can also be downloaded using the Data Download tool from the Climate Toolbox.
Can choose daily or monthly data; advanced data filtering options available; CSV files are customizable for point downloads; bulk download options for gridded data using wget/cURL.
Downloads are not available for area averages. Gridded downloads for individual models are in separate files.
CMIP5 Projection datasets:
MACA climate: 20 models; RCP4.5, 8.5; 40 projections
Temperature (Tave, Tmax, Tmin) Precip, Humidity, Wind, Solar Radiation, VPD
Not available here, but the MACA-VIC hydrology dataset can be downloaded in full or in part from the Future Streamflows tool in Climate Toolbox
Design-Your-Own-CSV Tool: ASCII/CSV
MACA Data Portal: netCDF
Geo Data Portal Tutorial, OPeNDAP Tutorial: data arrays within software (R, python, MATLAB) program
Design-Your-Own-CSV: none, but straightforward
MACA Data Portal: In multiple tabs across top menu
Geo Data Portal Tutorial: This “tool” is itself a guide to accessing the MACA data through the USGS Geo Data Portal.
OPeNDAP Tutorial: This “tool” is itself a guide to accessing MACA data using the OPenDAP protocol and a data-processing software package of choice (Python, R, MatLAB)
Before using any of these tools, read the “Best Practices” tab on the MACA Data Portal for guidance on matching a tool and download strategy with your data and processing needs.