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ENSO Diabatic Heating in ECMWF and NCEP–NCAR Reanalyses, and NCAR CCM3 Simulation

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, Maryland
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Abstract

Diabatic heating associated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability is residually diagnosed from the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts (ECMWF) and National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) atmospheric reanalysis datasets during the overlapping 1979–93 period. Quantitative characterization of the horizontal and vertical structure of ENSO heating anomalies, including estimates of uncertainty, provides observationally constrained validation targets for GCM physical parameterizations.

The diagnosed ENSO heating anomalies have similar horizontal structure, but the vertically averaged ECMWF heating is stronger and in better agreement with the Xie–Arkin precipitation anomalies, particularly with respect to precipitation reduction over the western tropical Pacific. Comparison of heating vertical structures in the central equatorial Pacific shows ECMWF heating to be considerably stronger in the lower troposphere, where it exhibits a local maximum.

The ENSO covariant tropospheric temperature in the two reanalyses was also examined along the equator and found to have an intriguing vertical structure, with sizeable amplitude in the lower and upper troposphere and vanishing amplitude in between. The largest temperature anomalies in the lower troposphere are at the surface, and the ECMWF one is about 50% stronger.

The three-dimensional heating anomalies diagnosed from the reanalyses are used to evaluate the ENSO heating distribution produced by NCAR’s Community Climate Model, version 3 (CCM3) atmospheric GCM, when integrated in a climate simulation mode. At least, in context of ENSO variability, the differences in ECMWF and NCEP heating anomalies are small in comparison with CCM3’s heating departures from either of these anomalies, allowing characterization of the CCM3’s ENSO heating structure: horizontally, as a more meridional redistribution (“Hadley-like”), and vertically, as a substantially “bottom-heavy” profile, relative to the reanalyses anomalies.

In a companion paper, deficiencies in the simulated ENSO surface winds are related to specific features of the CCM3’s heating error, from diagnostic modeling.

* Current affiliation: Center for Clouds, Chemistry, and Climate, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California.

Current affiliation: JISAO, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Corresponding author address: Sumant Nigam, Room 3403, Computer and Space Sciences Bldg., Dept. of Meteorology, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, MD 20742-2425.

Email: nigam@atmos.umd.edu

Abstract

Diabatic heating associated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability is residually diagnosed from the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts (ECMWF) and National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) atmospheric reanalysis datasets during the overlapping 1979–93 period. Quantitative characterization of the horizontal and vertical structure of ENSO heating anomalies, including estimates of uncertainty, provides observationally constrained validation targets for GCM physical parameterizations.

The diagnosed ENSO heating anomalies have similar horizontal structure, but the vertically averaged ECMWF heating is stronger and in better agreement with the Xie–Arkin precipitation anomalies, particularly with respect to precipitation reduction over the western tropical Pacific. Comparison of heating vertical structures in the central equatorial Pacific shows ECMWF heating to be considerably stronger in the lower troposphere, where it exhibits a local maximum.

The ENSO covariant tropospheric temperature in the two reanalyses was also examined along the equator and found to have an intriguing vertical structure, with sizeable amplitude in the lower and upper troposphere and vanishing amplitude in between. The largest temperature anomalies in the lower troposphere are at the surface, and the ECMWF one is about 50% stronger.

The three-dimensional heating anomalies diagnosed from the reanalyses are used to evaluate the ENSO heating distribution produced by NCAR’s Community Climate Model, version 3 (CCM3) atmospheric GCM, when integrated in a climate simulation mode. At least, in context of ENSO variability, the differences in ECMWF and NCEP heating anomalies are small in comparison with CCM3’s heating departures from either of these anomalies, allowing characterization of the CCM3’s ENSO heating structure: horizontally, as a more meridional redistribution (“Hadley-like”), and vertically, as a substantially “bottom-heavy” profile, relative to the reanalyses anomalies.

In a companion paper, deficiencies in the simulated ENSO surface winds are related to specific features of the CCM3’s heating error, from diagnostic modeling.

* Current affiliation: Center for Clouds, Chemistry, and Climate, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California.

Current affiliation: JISAO, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Corresponding author address: Sumant Nigam, Room 3403, Computer and Space Sciences Bldg., Dept. of Meteorology, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, MD 20742-2425.

Email: nigam@atmos.umd.edu

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