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Interannual Tropical Rainfall Variability in General Circulation Model Simulations Associated with the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project

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  • 1 Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California
  • | 2 European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Shinfield Park, Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom
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Abstract

The interannual variability of rainfall over the Indian subcontinent, the African Sahel, and the Nordeste region of Brazil have been evaluated in 32 models for the period 1979–88 as part of the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP). The interannual variations of Nordeste rainfall are the most readily captured, owing to the intimate link with Pacific and Atlantic sea surface temperatures. The precipitation variations over India and the Sahel are less well simulated. Additionally, an Indian monsoon wind shear index was calculated for each model. Evaluation of the interannual variability of a wind shear index over the summer monsoon region indicates that the models exhibit greater fidelity in capturing the large-scale dynamic fluctuations than the regional-scale rainfall variations. A rainfall/SST teleconnection quality control was used to objectively stratify model performance. Skill scores improved for those models that qualitatively simulated the observed rainfall/El Niño- Southern Oscillation SST correlation pattern. This subset of models also had a rainfall climatology that was in better agreement with observations, indicating a link between systematic model error and the ability to simulate interannual variations.

A suite of six European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) AMIP runs (differing only in their initial conditions) have also been examined. As observed, all-India rainfall was enhanced in 1988 relative to 1987 in each of these realizations. All-India rainfall variability during other years showed little or no predictability, possibly due to internal chaotic dynamics associated with intraseasonal monsoon fluctuations and/or unpredictable land surface process interactions. The interannual variations of Nordeste rainfall were best represented. The State University of New York at Albany/National Center for Atmospheric Research Genesis model was run in five initial condition realizations. In this model, the Nordeste rainfall variability was also best reproduced. However, for all regions the skill was less than that of the ECMWF model.

The relationships of the all-India and Sahel rainfall/SST teleconnections with horizontal resolution, convection scheme closure, and numerics have been evaluated. Models with resolution ≥ T42 performed more poorly than lower-resolution models. The higher resolution models were predominantly spectral. At low resolution, spectral versus gridpoint numerics performed with nearly equal verisimilitude. At low resolution, moisture convergence closure was slightly more preferable than other convective closure techniques. At high resolution, the models that used moisture convergence closure performed very poorly, suggesting that moisture convergence may be problematic for models with horizontal resolution ≥ T42.

Abstract

The interannual variability of rainfall over the Indian subcontinent, the African Sahel, and the Nordeste region of Brazil have been evaluated in 32 models for the period 1979–88 as part of the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP). The interannual variations of Nordeste rainfall are the most readily captured, owing to the intimate link with Pacific and Atlantic sea surface temperatures. The precipitation variations over India and the Sahel are less well simulated. Additionally, an Indian monsoon wind shear index was calculated for each model. Evaluation of the interannual variability of a wind shear index over the summer monsoon region indicates that the models exhibit greater fidelity in capturing the large-scale dynamic fluctuations than the regional-scale rainfall variations. A rainfall/SST teleconnection quality control was used to objectively stratify model performance. Skill scores improved for those models that qualitatively simulated the observed rainfall/El Niño- Southern Oscillation SST correlation pattern. This subset of models also had a rainfall climatology that was in better agreement with observations, indicating a link between systematic model error and the ability to simulate interannual variations.

A suite of six European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) AMIP runs (differing only in their initial conditions) have also been examined. As observed, all-India rainfall was enhanced in 1988 relative to 1987 in each of these realizations. All-India rainfall variability during other years showed little or no predictability, possibly due to internal chaotic dynamics associated with intraseasonal monsoon fluctuations and/or unpredictable land surface process interactions. The interannual variations of Nordeste rainfall were best represented. The State University of New York at Albany/National Center for Atmospheric Research Genesis model was run in five initial condition realizations. In this model, the Nordeste rainfall variability was also best reproduced. However, for all regions the skill was less than that of the ECMWF model.

The relationships of the all-India and Sahel rainfall/SST teleconnections with horizontal resolution, convection scheme closure, and numerics have been evaluated. Models with resolution ≥ T42 performed more poorly than lower-resolution models. The higher resolution models were predominantly spectral. At low resolution, spectral versus gridpoint numerics performed with nearly equal verisimilitude. At low resolution, moisture convergence closure was slightly more preferable than other convective closure techniques. At high resolution, the models that used moisture convergence closure performed very poorly, suggesting that moisture convergence may be problematic for models with horizontal resolution ≥ T42.

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