Simulations of the Eastern North Pacific Intraseasonal Variability in CMIP5 GCMs

Xianan Jiang Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Eric D. Maloney Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Jui-Lin F. Li Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Duane E. Waliser Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Abstract

As a key component of tropical atmospheric variability, intraseasonal variability (ISV) over the eastern North Pacific Ocean (ENP) exerts pronounced influences on regional weather and climate. Since general circulation models (GCMs) are essential tools for prediction and projection of future climate, current model deficiencies in representing this important variability leave us greatly disadvantaged in studies and prediction of climate change. In this study, the authors have assessed model fidelity in representing ENP ISV by analyzing 16 GCMs participating in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Among the 16 CMIP5 GCMs examined in this study, only seven GCMs capture the spatial pattern of the leading ENP ISV mode relatively well, although even these GCMs exhibit biases in simulating ISV amplitude. Analyses indicate that model fidelity in representing ENP ISV is closely associated with the ability to simulate a realistic summer mean state. The presence of westerly or weak mean easterly winds over the ENP warm pool region could be conducive to more realistic simulations of the ISV. One hypothesis to explain this relationship is that a realistic mean state could produce the correct sign of surface flux anomalies relative to the ISV convection, which helps to destabilize local intraseasonal disturbances. The projected changes in characteristics of ENP ISV under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) projection scenario are also explored based on simulations from three CMIP5 GCMs. Results suggest that, in a future climate, the amplitude of ISV could be enhanced over the southern part of the ENP while reduced over the northern ENP off the coast of Mexico/Central America and the Caribbean.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xianan Jiang, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., MS 233-300, Pasadena, CA 91109. E-mail: xianan@jifresse.ucla.edu

This article is included in the North American Climate in CMIP5 Experiments special collection.

Abstract

As a key component of tropical atmospheric variability, intraseasonal variability (ISV) over the eastern North Pacific Ocean (ENP) exerts pronounced influences on regional weather and climate. Since general circulation models (GCMs) are essential tools for prediction and projection of future climate, current model deficiencies in representing this important variability leave us greatly disadvantaged in studies and prediction of climate change. In this study, the authors have assessed model fidelity in representing ENP ISV by analyzing 16 GCMs participating in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Among the 16 CMIP5 GCMs examined in this study, only seven GCMs capture the spatial pattern of the leading ENP ISV mode relatively well, although even these GCMs exhibit biases in simulating ISV amplitude. Analyses indicate that model fidelity in representing ENP ISV is closely associated with the ability to simulate a realistic summer mean state. The presence of westerly or weak mean easterly winds over the ENP warm pool region could be conducive to more realistic simulations of the ISV. One hypothesis to explain this relationship is that a realistic mean state could produce the correct sign of surface flux anomalies relative to the ISV convection, which helps to destabilize local intraseasonal disturbances. The projected changes in characteristics of ENP ISV under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) projection scenario are also explored based on simulations from three CMIP5 GCMs. Results suggest that, in a future climate, the amplitude of ISV could be enhanced over the southern part of the ENP while reduced over the northern ENP off the coast of Mexico/Central America and the Caribbean.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xianan Jiang, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., MS 233-300, Pasadena, CA 91109. E-mail: xianan@jifresse.ucla.edu

This article is included in the North American Climate in CMIP5 Experiments special collection.

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