Regional Climates in the GISS Global Circulation Model: Synoptic-Scale Circulation

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  • 1 Department of Geography and The Earth System Science Center, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

Model simulations of global climate change are seen as an essential component of any program at understanding human impact on the global environment. A major weakness of current general circulation models (GCMs), however, is their perceived inability to predict reliably the regional consequences of a global-scale change, and it is these regional-scale predictions that are necessary for studies of human-environment response. For large areas of the extratropics, the local climate is controlled by the synoptic-scale atmospheric circulation, and it is the purpose of this paper to evaluate the synoptic-scale circulation of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) GCM. A methodology for validating the daily synoptic circulation using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is described, and the methodology is then applied to the GCM simulation of sea level pressure over the continental United States (excluding Alaska). The analysis demonstrates that the GISS 4°×5° GCM Model II effectively simulates the synoptic-scale atmospheric circulation over the United States. The modes of variance describing the atmospheric circulation of the model are comparable to those found in the observed data, and these modes explain similar amounts of variance in their respective datasets. The temporal behavior of these circulation modes in the synoptic time frame are also comparable.

Abstract

Model simulations of global climate change are seen as an essential component of any program at understanding human impact on the global environment. A major weakness of current general circulation models (GCMs), however, is their perceived inability to predict reliably the regional consequences of a global-scale change, and it is these regional-scale predictions that are necessary for studies of human-environment response. For large areas of the extratropics, the local climate is controlled by the synoptic-scale atmospheric circulation, and it is the purpose of this paper to evaluate the synoptic-scale circulation of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) GCM. A methodology for validating the daily synoptic circulation using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is described, and the methodology is then applied to the GCM simulation of sea level pressure over the continental United States (excluding Alaska). The analysis demonstrates that the GISS 4°×5° GCM Model II effectively simulates the synoptic-scale atmospheric circulation over the United States. The modes of variance describing the atmospheric circulation of the model are comparable to those found in the observed data, and these modes explain similar amounts of variance in their respective datasets. The temporal behavior of these circulation modes in the synoptic time frame are also comparable.

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