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Convectively Coupled Equatorial Waves in High-Resolution Hadley Centre Climate Models

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  • 1 National Centre for Atmospheric Science, and Department of Meteorology, Walker Institute, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
  • | 2 Department of Meteorology, Walker Institute, University of Reading, Reading, and Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
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Abstract

A methodology for diagnosing convectively coupled equatorial waves is applied to output from two high-resolution versions of atmospheric models, the Hadley Centre Atmospheric Model, version 3 (HadAM3), and the new Hadley Centre Global Atmospheric Model, version 1 (HadGAM1), which have fundamental differences in dynamical formulation. Variability, horizontal and vertical structures, and propagation characteristics of tropical convection and equatorial waves, along with their coupled behavior in the models, are examined and evaluated against a previous comprehensive study of observed convectively coupled equatorial waves using the 15-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-15) and satellite observed data. The extent to which the models are able to represent the coupled waves found in real atmospheric observations is investigated. It is shown that, in general, the models perform well for equatorial waves coupled with off-equatorial convection. However, they perform poorly for waves coupled with equatorial convection. Convection in both models contains much-reduced variance in equatorial regions, but reasonable off-equatorial variance.

The models fail to simulate coupling of the waves with equatorial convection and the tendency for equatorial convection to appear in the region of wave-enhanced near-surface westerlies. In addition, the simulated Kelvin wave and its associated convection generally tend to have lower frequency and slower phase speed than that observed. The models are also not able to capture the observed vertical tilt structure and signatures of energy conversion in the Kelvin wave, particularly in HadAM3. On the other hand, models perform better in simulating westward-moving waves coupled with off-equatorial convection, in terms of horizontal and vertical structures, zonal propagation, and energy conversion signals. In most cases both models fail to simulate well a key picture emerging from the observations, that some wave modes in the lower troposphere can act as a forcing agent for equatorial convection, and that the upper-tropospheric waves generally appear to be forced by the convection both on and off the equator.

Corresponding author address: Gui-Ying Yang, Dept. of Meteorology, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. Email: g.y.yang@reading.ac.uk

Abstract

A methodology for diagnosing convectively coupled equatorial waves is applied to output from two high-resolution versions of atmospheric models, the Hadley Centre Atmospheric Model, version 3 (HadAM3), and the new Hadley Centre Global Atmospheric Model, version 1 (HadGAM1), which have fundamental differences in dynamical formulation. Variability, horizontal and vertical structures, and propagation characteristics of tropical convection and equatorial waves, along with their coupled behavior in the models, are examined and evaluated against a previous comprehensive study of observed convectively coupled equatorial waves using the 15-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-15) and satellite observed data. The extent to which the models are able to represent the coupled waves found in real atmospheric observations is investigated. It is shown that, in general, the models perform well for equatorial waves coupled with off-equatorial convection. However, they perform poorly for waves coupled with equatorial convection. Convection in both models contains much-reduced variance in equatorial regions, but reasonable off-equatorial variance.

The models fail to simulate coupling of the waves with equatorial convection and the tendency for equatorial convection to appear in the region of wave-enhanced near-surface westerlies. In addition, the simulated Kelvin wave and its associated convection generally tend to have lower frequency and slower phase speed than that observed. The models are also not able to capture the observed vertical tilt structure and signatures of energy conversion in the Kelvin wave, particularly in HadAM3. On the other hand, models perform better in simulating westward-moving waves coupled with off-equatorial convection, in terms of horizontal and vertical structures, zonal propagation, and energy conversion signals. In most cases both models fail to simulate well a key picture emerging from the observations, that some wave modes in the lower troposphere can act as a forcing agent for equatorial convection, and that the upper-tropospheric waves generally appear to be forced by the convection both on and off the equator.

Corresponding author address: Gui-Ying Yang, Dept. of Meteorology, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. Email: g.y.yang@reading.ac.uk

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