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Climate Drift in a Coupled Land–Atmosphere Model

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  • 1 Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Institute of Global Environment and Society, Inc., Calverton, Maryland
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Abstract

A coupled land–atmosphere climate model is examined for evidence of climate drift in the land surface state variable of soil moisture. The drift is characterized as pathological error growth in two different ways. First is the systematic error that is evident over seasonal timescales, dominated by the error modes with the largest saturated amplitude: systematic drift. Second is the fast-growing modes that are present in the first few days after either initialization or a data assimilation increment: incremental drift. When the drifts are robust across many ensemble members and from year to year, they suggest a source of drift internal to the coupled system. This source may be due to problems in either component model or in the coupling between them. Evidence is presented for both systematic and incremental drift. The relationship between the two types of drift at any given point is shown to be an indication of the type and strength of feedbacks within the coupled system. Methods for elucidating potential sources of the drift are proposed.

Corresponding author address: Paul A. Dirmeyer, Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Institute of Global Environment and Society, Inc., 4041 Powder Mill Rd., Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705.

Email: dirmeyer@cola.iges.org

Abstract

A coupled land–atmosphere climate model is examined for evidence of climate drift in the land surface state variable of soil moisture. The drift is characterized as pathological error growth in two different ways. First is the systematic error that is evident over seasonal timescales, dominated by the error modes with the largest saturated amplitude: systematic drift. Second is the fast-growing modes that are present in the first few days after either initialization or a data assimilation increment: incremental drift. When the drifts are robust across many ensemble members and from year to year, they suggest a source of drift internal to the coupled system. This source may be due to problems in either component model or in the coupling between them. Evidence is presented for both systematic and incremental drift. The relationship between the two types of drift at any given point is shown to be an indication of the type and strength of feedbacks within the coupled system. Methods for elucidating potential sources of the drift are proposed.

Corresponding author address: Paul A. Dirmeyer, Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Institute of Global Environment and Society, Inc., 4041 Powder Mill Rd., Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705.

Email: dirmeyer@cola.iges.org

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