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GCM Simulations of the Climate in the Central United States

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  • 1 Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, Illinois
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Abstract

A diagnostic analysis of relationships between central U.S. climate characteristics and various flow and scalar fields was used to evaluate nine global coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation models (CGCMs) participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). To facilitate identification of physical mechanisms causing biases, data from 21 models participating in the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) were also used for certain key analyses.

Most models reproduce basic features of the circulation, temperature, and precipitation patterns in the central United States, although no model exhibits small differences from the observationally based data for all characteristics in all seasons. Model ensemble means generally produce better agreement with the observationally based data than any single model. A fall precipitation deficiency, found in all AMIP and CMIP models except the third-generation Hadley Centre CGCM (HadCM3), appears to be related in part to slight biases in the flow on the western flank of the Atlantic subtropical ridge. In the model mean, the ridge at 850 hPa is displaced slightly to the north and to the west, resulting in weaker southerly flow into the central United States.

The CMIP doubled-CO2 transient runs show warming (1°–5°C) for all models and seasons and variable precipitation changes over the central United States. Temperature (precipitation) changes are larger (mostly less) than the variations that are observed in the twentieth century and the model variations in the control simulations.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Kenneth E. Kunkel, Illinois State Water Survey, 2204 Griffith Drive, Champaign, IL 61820-7495. Email: kkunkel@uiuc.edu

Abstract

A diagnostic analysis of relationships between central U.S. climate characteristics and various flow and scalar fields was used to evaluate nine global coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation models (CGCMs) participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). To facilitate identification of physical mechanisms causing biases, data from 21 models participating in the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) were also used for certain key analyses.

Most models reproduce basic features of the circulation, temperature, and precipitation patterns in the central United States, although no model exhibits small differences from the observationally based data for all characteristics in all seasons. Model ensemble means generally produce better agreement with the observationally based data than any single model. A fall precipitation deficiency, found in all AMIP and CMIP models except the third-generation Hadley Centre CGCM (HadCM3), appears to be related in part to slight biases in the flow on the western flank of the Atlantic subtropical ridge. In the model mean, the ridge at 850 hPa is displaced slightly to the north and to the west, resulting in weaker southerly flow into the central United States.

The CMIP doubled-CO2 transient runs show warming (1°–5°C) for all models and seasons and variable precipitation changes over the central United States. Temperature (precipitation) changes are larger (mostly less) than the variations that are observed in the twentieth century and the model variations in the control simulations.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Kenneth E. Kunkel, Illinois State Water Survey, 2204 Griffith Drive, Champaign, IL 61820-7495. Email: kkunkel@uiuc.edu

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