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Laura Landrum, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Eugene R. Wahl, Andrew Conley, Peter J. Lawrence, Nan Rosenbloom, and Haiyan Teng

Abstract

An overview of a simulation referred to as the “Last Millennium” (LM) simulation of the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4), is presented. The CCSM4 LM simulation reproduces many large-scale climate patterns suggested by historical and proxy-data records, with Northern Hemisphere (NH) and Southern Hemisphere (SH) surface temperatures cooling to the early 1800s Common Era by ~0.5°C (NH) and ~0.3°C (SH), followed by warming to the present. High latitudes of both hemispheres show polar amplification of the cooling from the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) to the Little Ice Age (LIA) associated with sea ice increases. The LM simulation does not reproduce La Niña–like cooling in the eastern Pacific Ocean during the MCA relative to the LIA, as has been suggested by proxy reconstructions. Still, dry medieval conditions over the southwestern and central United States are simulated in agreement with proxy indicators for these regions. Strong global cooling is associated with large volcanic eruptions, with indications of multidecadal colder climate in response to larger eruptions. The CCSM4’s response to large volcanic eruptions captures some reconstructed patterns of temperature changes over Europe and North America, but not those of precipitation in the Asian monsoon region. The Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) has higher variance at centennial periods in the LM simulation compared to the 1850 nontransient run, suggesting a long-term Atlantic Ocean response to natural forcings. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability modes show little or no change. CCSM4 does not simulate a persistent positive NAO or a prolonged period of negative PDO during the MCA, as suggested by some proxy reconstructions.

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K. J. Evans, P. H. Lauritzen, S. K. Mishra, R. B. Neale, M. A. Taylor, and J. J. Tribbia

Abstract

The authors evaluate the climate produced by the Community Climate System Model, version 4, running with the new spectral element atmospheric dynamical core option. The spectral element method is configured to use a cubed-sphere grid, providing quasi-uniform resolution over the sphere and increased parallel scalability and removing the need for polar filters. It uses a fourth-order accurate spatial discretization that locally conserves mass and total energy. Using the Atmosphere Model Intercomparison Project protocol, the results from the spectral element dynamical core are compared with those produced by the default finite-volume dynamical core and with observations. Even though the two dynamical cores are quite different, their simulated climates are remarkably similar. When compared with observations, both models have strengths and weaknesses but have nearly identical root-mean-square errors and the largest biases show little sensitivity to the dynamical core. The spectral element core does an excellent job reproducing the atmospheric kinetic energy spectra, including fully capturing the observed Nastrom–Gage transition when running at 0.125° resolution.

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Jenny Lindvall, Gunilla Svensson, and Cecile Hannay

Abstract

This paper describes the performance of the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) versions 4 and 5 in simulating near-surface parameters. CAM is the atmospheric component of the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Most of the parameterizations in the two versions are substantially different, and that is also true for the boundary layer scheme: CAM4 employs a nonlocal K-profile scheme, whereas CAM5 uses a turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) scheme. The evaluation focuses on the diurnal cycle and global observational and reanalysis datasets are used together with multiyear observations from 35 flux tower sites, providing high-frequency measurements in a range of different climate zones. It is found that both model versions capture the timing of the diurnal cycle but considerably overestimate the diurnal amplitude of net radiation, temperature, wind, and turbulent heat fluxes. The seasonal temperature range at mid- and high latitudes is also overestimated with too warm summer temperatures and too cold winter temperatures. The diagnosed boundary layer is deeper in CAM5 over ocean in regions with low-level marine clouds as a result of the turbulence generated by cloud-top cooling. Elsewhere, the boundary layer is in general shallower in CAM5. The two model versions differ substantially in their representation of near-surface wind speeds over land. The low-level wind speed in CAM5 is about half as strong as in CAM4, and the difference is even larger in areas where the subgrid-scale terrain is significant. The reason is the turbulent mountain stress parameterization, only applied in CAM5, which acts to increase the surface stress and thereby reduce the wind speed.

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Susan C. Bates, Baylor Fox-Kemper, Steven R. Jayne, William G. Large, Samantha Stevenson, and Stephen G. Yeager

Abstract

Air–sea fluxes from the Community Climate System Model version 4 (CCSM4) are compared with the Coordinated Ocean-Ice Reference Experiment (CORE) dataset to assess present-day mean biases, variability errors, and late twentieth-century trend differences. CCSM4 is improved over the previous version, CCSM3, in both air–sea heat and freshwater fluxes in some regions; however, a large increase in net shortwave radiation into the ocean may contribute to an enhanced hydrological cycle. The authors provide a new baseline for assessment of flux variance at annual and interannual frequency bands in future model versions and contribute a new metric for assessing the coupling between the atmospheric and oceanic planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes of any climate model. Maps of the ratio of CCSM4 variance to CORE reveal that variance on annual time scales has larger error than on interannual time scales and that different processes cause errors in mean, annual, and interannual frequency bands. Air temperature and specific humidity in the CCSM4 atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) follow the sea surface conditions much more closely than is found in CORE. Sensible and latent heat fluxes are less of a negative feedback to sea surface temperature warming in the CCSM4 than in the CORE data with the model’s PBL allowing for more heating of the ocean’s surface.

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S. J. Ghan, X. Liu, R. C. Easter, R. Zaveri, P. J. Rasch, J.-H. Yoon, and B. Eaton

Abstract

The authors have decomposed the anthropogenic aerosol radiative forcing into direct contributions from each aerosol species to the planetary energy balance through absorption and scattering of solar radiation, indirect effects of anthropogenic aerosol on solar and infrared radiation through droplet and crystal nucleation on aerosol, and semidirect effects through the influence of solar absorption on the distribution of clouds. A three-mode representation of the aerosol in version 5.1 of the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5.1) yields global annual mean radiative forcing estimates for each of these forcing mechanisms that are within 0.1 W m−2 of estimates using a more complex seven-mode representation that distinguishes between fresh and aged black carbon and primary organic matter. Simulating fresh black carbon particles separately from internally mixed accumulation mode particles is found to be important only near fossil fuel sources. In addition to the usual large indirect effect on solar radiation, this study finds an unexpectedly large positive longwave indirect effect (because of enhanced cirrus produced by homogenous nucleation of ice crystals on anthropogenic sulfate), small shortwave and longwave semidirect effects, and a small direct effect (because of cancelation and interactions of direct effects of black carbon and sulfate). Differences between the three-mode and seven-mode versions are significantly larger (up to 0.2 W m−2) when the hygroscopicity of primary organic matter is decreased from 0.1 to 0 and transfer of the primary carbonaceous aerosol to the accumulation mode in the seven-mode version requires more hygroscopic material coating the primary particles. Radiative forcing by cloudborne anthropogenic black carbon is only −0.07 W m−2.

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Kevin Raeder, Jeffrey L. Anderson, Nancy Collins, Timothy J. Hoar, Jennifer E. Kay, Peter H. Lauritzen, and Robert Pincus

Abstract

The Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) has been interfaced to the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART), a community facility for ensemble data assimilation. This provides a large set of data assimilation tools for climate model research and development. Aspects of the interface to the Community Earth System Model (CESM) software are discussed and a variety of applications are illustrated, ranging from model development to the production of long series of analyses. CAM output is compared directly to real observations from platforms ranging from radiosondes to global positioning system satellites. Such comparisons use the temporally and spatially heterogeneous analysis error estimates available from the ensemble to provide very specific forecast quality evaluations. The ability to start forecasts from analyses, which were generated by CAM on its native grid and have no foreign model bias, contributed to the detection of a code error involving Arctic sea ice and cloud cover. The potential of parameter estimation is discussed. A CAM ensemble reanalysis has been generated for more than 15 yr. Atmospheric forcings from the reanalysis were required as input to generate an ocean ensemble reanalysis that provided initial conditions for decadal prediction experiments. The software enables rapid experimentation with differing sets of observations and state variables, and the comparison of different models against identical real observations, as illustrated by a comparison of forecasts initialized by interpolated ECMWF analyses and by DART/CAM analyses.

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Jennifer E. Kay, Marika M. Holland, Cecilia M. Bitz, Edward Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, Andrew Gettelman, Andrew Conley, and David Bailey

Abstract

This study uses coupled climate model experiments to identify the influence of atmospheric physics [Community Atmosphere Model, versions 4 and 5 (CAM4; CAM5)] and ocean model complexity (slab ocean, full-depth ocean) on the equilibrium Arctic climate response to an instantaneous CO2 doubling. In slab ocean model (SOM) experiments using CAM4 and CAM5, local radiative feedbacks, not atmospheric heat flux convergence, are the dominant control on the Arctic surface response to increased greenhouse gas forcing. Equilibrium Arctic surface air temperature warming and amplification are greater in the CAM5 SOM experiment than in the equivalent CAM4 SOM experiment. Larger 2 × CO2 radiative forcing, more positive Arctic surface albedo feedbacks, and less negative Arctic shortwave cloud feedbacks all contribute to greater Arctic surface warming and sea ice loss in CAM5 as compared to CAM4. When CAM4 is coupled to an active full-depth ocean model, Arctic Ocean horizontal heat flux convergence increases in response to the instantaneous CO2 doubling. Though this increased ocean northward heat transport slightly enhances Arctic sea ice extent loss, the representation of atmospheric processes (CAM4 versus CAM5) has a larger influence on the equilibrium Arctic surface climate response than the degree of ocean coupling (slab ocean versus full-depth ocean). These findings underscore that local feedbacks can be more important than northward heat transport for explaining the equilibrium Arctic surface climate response and response differences in coupled climate models. That said, the processes explaining the equilibrium climate response differences here may be different than the processes explaining intermodel spread in transient climate projections.

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Stephen Yeager, Alicia Karspeck, Gokhan Danabasoglu, Joe Tribbia, and Haiyan Teng

Abstract

An ensemble of initialized decadal prediction (DP) experiments using the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4) shows considerable skill at forecasting changes in North Atlantic upper-ocean heat content and surface temperature up to a decade in advance. Coupled model ensembles were integrated forward from each of 10 different start dates spanning from 1961 to 2006 with ocean and sea ice initial conditions obtained from a forced historical experiment, a Coordinated Ocean-Ice Reference Experiment with Interannual forcing (CORE-IA), which exhibits good correspondence with late twentieth-century ocean observations from the North Atlantic subpolar gyre (SPG) region. North Atlantic heat content anomalies from the DP ensemble correlate highly with those from the CORE-IA simulation after correcting for a drift bias. In particular, the observed large, rapid rise in SPG heat content in the mid-1990s is successfully predicted in the ensemble initialized in January of 1991. A budget of SPG heat content from the CORE-IA experiment sheds light on the origins of the 1990s regime shift, and it demonstrates the extent to which low-frequency changes in ocean heat advection related to the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation dominate temperature tendencies in this region. Similar budgets from the DP ensembles reveal varying degrees of predictive skill in the individual heat budget terms, with large advective heat flux anomalies from the south exhibiting the highest correlation with CORE-IA. The skill of the DP in this region is thus tied to correct initialization of ocean circulation anomalies, while external forcing is found to contribute negligibly (and for incorrect reasons) to predictive skill in this region over this time period.

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J. E. Kay, B. R. Hillman, S. A. Klein, Y. Zhang, B. Medeiros, R. Pincus, A. Gettelman, B. Eaton, J. Boyle, R. Marchand, and T. P. Ackerman

Abstract

Satellite observations and their corresponding instrument simulators are used to document global cloud biases in the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) versions 4 and 5. The model–observation comparisons show that, despite having nearly identical cloud radiative forcing, CAM5 has a much more realistic representation of cloud properties than CAM4. In particular, CAM5 exhibits substantial improvement in three long-standing climate model cloud biases: 1) the underestimation of total cloud, 2) the overestimation of optically thick cloud, and 3) the underestimation of midlevel cloud. While the increased total cloud and decreased optically thick cloud in CAM5 result from improved physical process representation, the increased midlevel cloud in CAM5 results from the addition of radiatively active snow. Despite these improvements, both CAM versions have cloud deficiencies. Of particular concern, both models exhibit large but differing biases in the subtropical marine boundary layer cloud regimes that are known to explain intermodel differences in cloud feedbacks and climate sensitivity. More generally, this study demonstrates that simulator-facilitated evaluation of cloud properties, such as amount by vertical level and optical depth, can robustly expose large and at times radiatively compensating climate model cloud biases.

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Gokhan Danabasoglu, Steve G. Yeager, Young-Oh Kwon, Joseph J. Tribbia, Adam S. Phillips, and James W. Hurrell

Abstract

Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) variability is documented in the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4) preindustrial control simulation that uses nominal 1° horizontal resolution in all its components. AMOC shows a broad spectrum of low-frequency variability covering the 50–200-yr range, contrasting sharply with the multidecadal variability seen in the T85 × 1 resolution CCSM3 present-day control simulation. Furthermore, the amplitude of variability is much reduced in CCSM4 compared to that of CCSM3. Similarities as well as differences in AMOC variability mechanisms between CCSM3 and CCSM4 are discussed. As in CCSM3, the CCSM4 AMOC variability is primarily driven by the positive density anomalies at the Labrador Sea (LS) deep-water formation site, peaking 2 yr prior to an AMOC maximum. All processes, including parameterized mesoscale and submesoscale eddies, play a role in the creation of salinity anomalies that dominate these density anomalies. High Nordic Sea densities do not necessarily lead to increased overflow transports because the overflow physics is governed by source and interior region density differences. Increased overflow transports do not lead to a higher AMOC either but instead appear to be a precursor to lower AMOC transports through enhanced stratification in LS. This has important implications for decadal prediction studies. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is significantly correlated with the positive boundary layer depth and density anomalies prior to an AMOC maximum. This suggests a role for NAO through setting the surface flux anomalies in LS and affecting the subpolar gyre circulation strength.

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