Storm-Track Activity in IPCC AR4/CMIP3 Model Simulations

Edmund K. M. Chang School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

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Yanjuan Guo Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

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Xiaoming Xia School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

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Minghua Zheng School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

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Abstract

The climatological storm-track activity simulated by 17 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC AR4)/phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3) models is compared to that in the interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim). Nearly half of the models show significant biases in storm-track amplitude: four models simulate storm tracks that are either significantly (>20%) too strong or too weak in both hemispheres, while four other models have interhemispheric storm-track ratios that are biased by over 10%. Consistent with previous studies, storm-track amplitude is found to be negatively correlated with grid spacing. The interhemispheric ratio of storm-track activity is highly correlated with the interhemispheric ratio of mean available potential energy, and this ratio is biased in some model simulations due to biases in the midlatitude temperature gradients. In terms of geographical pattern, the storm tracks in most CMIP3 models exhibit an equatorward bias in both hemispheres. For the seasonal cycle, most models can capture the equatorward migration and strengthening of the storm tracks during the cool season, but some models exhibit biases in the amplitude of the seasonal cycle.

Possible implications of model biases in storm-track climatology have been investigated. For both hemispheres, models with weak storm tracks tend to have larger percentage changes in storm-track amplitudes over the seasonal cycle. Under global warming, for the NH, models with weak storm tracks tend to project larger percentage changes in storm-track amplitude whereas, for the SH, models with large equatorward biases in storm-track latitude tend to project larger poleward shifts. Preliminary results suggest that CMIP5 model projections also share these behaviors.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Edmund Chang, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5000. E-mail: kmchang@notes.cc.sunysb.edu

Abstract

The climatological storm-track activity simulated by 17 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC AR4)/phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3) models is compared to that in the interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim). Nearly half of the models show significant biases in storm-track amplitude: four models simulate storm tracks that are either significantly (>20%) too strong or too weak in both hemispheres, while four other models have interhemispheric storm-track ratios that are biased by over 10%. Consistent with previous studies, storm-track amplitude is found to be negatively correlated with grid spacing. The interhemispheric ratio of storm-track activity is highly correlated with the interhemispheric ratio of mean available potential energy, and this ratio is biased in some model simulations due to biases in the midlatitude temperature gradients. In terms of geographical pattern, the storm tracks in most CMIP3 models exhibit an equatorward bias in both hemispheres. For the seasonal cycle, most models can capture the equatorward migration and strengthening of the storm tracks during the cool season, but some models exhibit biases in the amplitude of the seasonal cycle.

Possible implications of model biases in storm-track climatology have been investigated. For both hemispheres, models with weak storm tracks tend to have larger percentage changes in storm-track amplitudes over the seasonal cycle. Under global warming, for the NH, models with weak storm tracks tend to project larger percentage changes in storm-track amplitude whereas, for the SH, models with large equatorward biases in storm-track latitude tend to project larger poleward shifts. Preliminary results suggest that CMIP5 model projections also share these behaviors.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Edmund Chang, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5000. E-mail: kmchang@notes.cc.sunysb.edu
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