Diagnosis of Extratropical Variability in Seasonal Integrations of the ECMWF Model

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  • 1 European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Shinfield Park, Reading, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Properties of the general circulation simulated by the ECMWF model are discussed using a set of seasonal integrations at T63 resolution. For each season, over the period of 5 years, 1986–1990, three integrations initiated on consecutive days were run with prescribed observed sea surface temperature (SST).

This paper presents a series of diagnostics of extratropical variability in the model, with particular emphasis on the northern winter. Time-filtered maps of variability indicate that in this season there is insufficient storm track activity penetrating into the Eurasian continent. Related to this the maximum of lower-frequency variance in the Euro-Atlantic region is erroneously shifted eastward in the model. By contrast the simulated fields of both high- and low-frequency variability for northern spring are more realistic.

Blocking is defined objectively in terms of the geostrophic wind at 500 mb. Consistent with the low-frequency transience, in the Euro-Atlantic sector the position of maximum blocking in the model is displaced eastward. The composite structure of blocks over the Pacific is realistic, though their frequency is severely underestimated at all times of year.

Shortcomings in the simulated wintertime general circulation were also revealed by studying the projection of 5-day mean fields onto empirical orthogonal functions (E0Fs) of the observed flow. The largest differences were apparent for statistics of EOFs of the zonal mean flow. Analysis of weather regime activity, defined from the EOFS, suggested that regimes with positive PNA index were overpopulated, while the negative PNA regimes were underpopulated. A further comparison between observed and modeled low-frequency variance revealed that underestimation of low-frequency variability occurs along the same axes that explain most of the spatial structure of the error in the mean field, suggesting a common dynamical origin for these two aspects of the systematic error.

Abstract

Properties of the general circulation simulated by the ECMWF model are discussed using a set of seasonal integrations at T63 resolution. For each season, over the period of 5 years, 1986–1990, three integrations initiated on consecutive days were run with prescribed observed sea surface temperature (SST).

This paper presents a series of diagnostics of extratropical variability in the model, with particular emphasis on the northern winter. Time-filtered maps of variability indicate that in this season there is insufficient storm track activity penetrating into the Eurasian continent. Related to this the maximum of lower-frequency variance in the Euro-Atlantic region is erroneously shifted eastward in the model. By contrast the simulated fields of both high- and low-frequency variability for northern spring are more realistic.

Blocking is defined objectively in terms of the geostrophic wind at 500 mb. Consistent with the low-frequency transience, in the Euro-Atlantic sector the position of maximum blocking in the model is displaced eastward. The composite structure of blocks over the Pacific is realistic, though their frequency is severely underestimated at all times of year.

Shortcomings in the simulated wintertime general circulation were also revealed by studying the projection of 5-day mean fields onto empirical orthogonal functions (E0Fs) of the observed flow. The largest differences were apparent for statistics of EOFs of the zonal mean flow. Analysis of weather regime activity, defined from the EOFS, suggested that regimes with positive PNA index were overpopulated, while the negative PNA regimes were underpopulated. A further comparison between observed and modeled low-frequency variance revealed that underestimation of low-frequency variability occurs along the same axes that explain most of the spatial structure of the error in the mean field, suggesting a common dynamical origin for these two aspects of the systematic error.

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