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Atmospheric Response to Variations in Sea-Surface Temperature

Jerome SparThe City College, CUNY, New York, N. Y. 10031

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Robert AtlasThe City College, CUNY, New York, N. Y. 10031

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Abstract

A two-week prediction experiment was performed with the GISS atmospheric model on a global data set beginning 20 December 1972 to test the sensitivity of the model to sea-surface temperature (SST) variations. Use of observed SST's in place of climatological monthly mean sea temperatures for surface flux calculations in the model was found to have a marked local effect on predicted precipitation over the ocean, with enhanced convection over warm SST anomalies. However, use of observed SST's did not lead to any detectable general improvement in forecast skill. The influence of the SST anomalies on daily predicted fields of pressure and geopotential was small up to about one week compared with the growth of prediction error, and no greater over a two-week period than that resulting from random errors in the initial meteorological state. The 14-day average fields of sea-level pressure and 500 mb height predicted by the model were similarly insensitive to the SST anomalies.

Abstract

A two-week prediction experiment was performed with the GISS atmospheric model on a global data set beginning 20 December 1972 to test the sensitivity of the model to sea-surface temperature (SST) variations. Use of observed SST's in place of climatological monthly mean sea temperatures for surface flux calculations in the model was found to have a marked local effect on predicted precipitation over the ocean, with enhanced convection over warm SST anomalies. However, use of observed SST's did not lead to any detectable general improvement in forecast skill. The influence of the SST anomalies on daily predicted fields of pressure and geopotential was small up to about one week compared with the growth of prediction error, and no greater over a two-week period than that resulting from random errors in the initial meteorological state. The 14-day average fields of sea-level pressure and 500 mb height predicted by the model were similarly insensitive to the SST anomalies.

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