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The Dynamical Simulation of the NCAR Community Climate Model Version 3 (CCM3)

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The dynamical simulation of the standard configuration of the latest version of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate Model (CCM3) is examined, including the seasonal variation of its mean state and its intraseasonal and interannual variability. A 15-yr integration in which the model is forced with observed monthly varying sea surface temperatures (SSTs) since 1979 is compared to coexisting observations. Results show that the most serious systematic errors in previous NCAR CCM versions have either been eliminated or substantially reduced.

At sea level, CCM3 reproduces the basic observed patterns of the pressure field very well. Simulated surface pressures are higher than observed over the subtropics, however, an error consistent with an easterly bias in the simulated trade winds and low-latitude surface wind stress. Amplitude errors and phase shifts of the subpolar low pressure centers over both hemispheres during winter produce the largest regional errors, which are on the order of 5 mb. In the upper troposphere, both the amplitude and location of the major circulation centers are very well captured by the model, in agreement with relatively small regional biases in the simulated winds. Errors in the zonal wind component at 200 mb are most notable between 40° and 50° lat of both hemispheres, where the modeled westerlies are stronger than observed especially over the Southern Hemisphere during winter. A ∼50% reduction in the magnitude of the zonally averaged westerly bias in the equatorial upper troposphere that plagued previous CCM versions can be attributed to a significantly improved tropical hydrologic cycle and reduced Walker circulation.

Over middle latitudes, the CCM3 realistically depicts the main storm tracks, although the transient kinetic energy is generally underestimated, especially over the summer hemispheres. Over lower latitudes, the model simulates tropical intraseasonal oscillations with marked seasonality in their occurrence. Typical periodicities, however, are near 20–30 days, which are shorter than observed, and the simulated amplitudes are weaker than in both observations and previous versions of the model. The simulated response to interannual variations in tropical SSTs is also realistic in CCM3. A simulated index of the Southern Oscillation agrees well with the observed, and the model captures the overall structure and magnitude of observed shifts in tropical and subtropical convergence zones and monthly rainfall anomalies associated with the tropical SST changes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. James W. Hurrell, NCAR/CGD, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000.

Email: jhurrel@ncar.ucar.edu

Abstract

The dynamical simulation of the standard configuration of the latest version of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate Model (CCM3) is examined, including the seasonal variation of its mean state and its intraseasonal and interannual variability. A 15-yr integration in which the model is forced with observed monthly varying sea surface temperatures (SSTs) since 1979 is compared to coexisting observations. Results show that the most serious systematic errors in previous NCAR CCM versions have either been eliminated or substantially reduced.

At sea level, CCM3 reproduces the basic observed patterns of the pressure field very well. Simulated surface pressures are higher than observed over the subtropics, however, an error consistent with an easterly bias in the simulated trade winds and low-latitude surface wind stress. Amplitude errors and phase shifts of the subpolar low pressure centers over both hemispheres during winter produce the largest regional errors, which are on the order of 5 mb. In the upper troposphere, both the amplitude and location of the major circulation centers are very well captured by the model, in agreement with relatively small regional biases in the simulated winds. Errors in the zonal wind component at 200 mb are most notable between 40° and 50° lat of both hemispheres, where the modeled westerlies are stronger than observed especially over the Southern Hemisphere during winter. A ∼50% reduction in the magnitude of the zonally averaged westerly bias in the equatorial upper troposphere that plagued previous CCM versions can be attributed to a significantly improved tropical hydrologic cycle and reduced Walker circulation.

Over middle latitudes, the CCM3 realistically depicts the main storm tracks, although the transient kinetic energy is generally underestimated, especially over the summer hemispheres. Over lower latitudes, the model simulates tropical intraseasonal oscillations with marked seasonality in their occurrence. Typical periodicities, however, are near 20–30 days, which are shorter than observed, and the simulated amplitudes are weaker than in both observations and previous versions of the model. The simulated response to interannual variations in tropical SSTs is also realistic in CCM3. A simulated index of the Southern Oscillation agrees well with the observed, and the model captures the overall structure and magnitude of observed shifts in tropical and subtropical convergence zones and monthly rainfall anomalies associated with the tropical SST changes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. James W. Hurrell, NCAR/CGD, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000.

Email: jhurrel@ncar.ucar.edu

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