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Lakshmi Krishnamurthy
,
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Rym Msadek
,
Hiroyuki Murakami
,
Andrew Wittenberg
, and
Fanrong Zeng

Abstract

Tropical cyclone (TC) activity in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans is known to be affected by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This study uses the GFDL Forecast Oriented Low Ocean Resolution Model (FLOR), which has relatively high resolution in the atmosphere, as a tool to investigate the sensitivity of TC activity to the strength of ENSO events. This study shows that TCs exhibit a nonlinear response to the strength of ENSO in the tropical eastern North Pacific (ENP) but a quasi-linear response in the tropical western North Pacific (WNP) and tropical North Atlantic. Specifically, a stronger El Niño results in disproportionate inhibition of TCs in the ENP and North Atlantic, and leads to an eastward shift in the location of TCs in the southeast of the WNP. However, the character of the response of TCs in the Pacific is insensitive to the amplitude of La Niña events. The eastward shift of TCs in the southeast of the WNP in response to a strong El Niño is due to an eastward shift of the convection and of the associated environmental conditions favorable for TCs. The inhibition of TC activity in the ENP and Atlantic during El Niño is attributed to the increase in the number of days with strong vertical wind shear during stronger El Niño events. These results are further substantiated with coupled model experiments. Understanding of the impact of strong ENSO on TC activity is important for present and future climate as the frequency of occurrence of extreme ENSO events is projected to increase in the future.

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Mitchell Bushuk
,
Xiaosong Yang
,
Michael Winton
,
Rym Msadek
,
Matthew Harrison
,
Anthony Rosati
, and
Rich Gudgel

ABSTRACT

Dynamical prediction systems have shown potential to meet the emerging need for seasonal forecasts of regional Arctic sea ice. Observationally constrained initial conditions are a key source of skill for these predictions, but the direct influence of different observation types on prediction skill has not yet been systematically investigated. In this work, we perform a hierarchy of observing system experiments with a coupled global data assimilation and prediction system to assess the value of different classes of oceanic and atmospheric observations for seasonal sea ice predictions in the Barents Sea. We find notable skill improvements due to the inclusion of both sea surface temperature (SST) satellite observations and subsurface conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) measurements. The SST data are found to provide the crucial source of interannual variability, whereas the CTD data primarily provide climatological and trend improvements. Analysis of the Barents Sea ocean heat budget suggests that ocean heat content anomalies in this region are driven by surface heat fluxes on seasonal time scales.

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Rym Msadek
,
William E. Johns
,
Stephen G. Yeager
,
Gokhan Danabasoglu
,
Thomas L. Delworth
, and
Anthony Rosati

Abstract

The link at 26.5°N between the Atlantic meridional heat transport (MHT) and the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC) is investigated in two climate models, the GFDL Climate Model version 2.1 (CM2.1) and the NCAR Community Climate System Model version 4 (CCSM4), and compared with the recent observational estimates from the Rapid Climate Change–Meridional Overturning Circulation and Heatflux Array (RAPID–MOCHA) array. Despite a stronger-than-observed MOC magnitude, both models underestimate the mean MHT at 26.5°N because of an overly diffuse thermocline. Biases result from errors in both overturning and gyre components of the MHT. The observed linear relationship between MHT and MOC at 26.5°N is realistically simulated by the two models and is mainly due to the overturning component of the MHT. Fluctuations in overturning MHT are dominated by Ekman transport variability in CM2.1 and CCSM4, whereas baroclinic geostrophic transport variability plays a larger role in RAPID. CCSM4, which has a parameterization of Nordic Sea overflows and thus a more realistic North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) penetration, shows smaller biases in the overturning heat transport than CM2.1 owing to deeper NADW at colder temperatures. The horizontal gyre heat transport and its sensitivity to the MOC are poorly represented in both models. The wind-driven gyre heat transport is northward in observations at 26.5°N, whereas it is weakly southward in both models, reducing the total MHT. This study emphasizes model biases that are responsible for the too-weak MHT, particularly at the western boundary. The use of direct MHT observations through RAPID allows for identification of the source of the too-weak MHT in the two models, a bias shared by a number of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) coupled models.

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James F. Booth
,
Young-Oh Kwon
,
Stanley Ko
,
R. Justin Small
, and
Rym Msadek

Abstract

To improve the understanding of storm tracks and western boundary current (WBC) interactions, surface storm tracks in 12 CMIP5 models are examined against ERA-Interim. All models capture an equatorward displacement toward the WBCs in the locations of the surface storm tracks’ maxima relative to those at 850 hPa. An estimated storm-track metric is developed to analyze the location of the surface storm track. It shows that the equatorward shift is influenced by both the lower-tropospheric instability and the baroclinicity. Basin-scale spatial correlations between models and ERA-Interim for the storm tracks, near-surface stability, SST gradient, and baroclinicity are calculated to test the ability of the GCMs’ match reanalysis. An intermodel comparison of the spatial correlations suggests that differences (relative to ERA-Interim) in the position of the storm track aloft have the strongest influence on differences in the surface storm-track position. However, in the North Atlantic, biases in the surface storm track north of the Gulf Stream are related to biases in the SST. An analysis of the strength of the storm tracks shows that most models generate a weaker storm track at the surface than 850 hPa, consistent with observations, although some outliers are found. A linear relationship exists among the models between storm-track amplitudes at 500 and 850 hPa, but not between 850 hPa and the surface. In total, the work reveals a dual role in forcing the surface storm track from aloft and from the ocean surface in CMIP5 models, with the atmosphere having the larger relative influence.

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Frederic S. Castruccio
,
Yohan Ruprich-Robert
,
Stephen G. Yeager
,
Gokhan Danabasoglu
,
Rym Msadek
, and
Thomas L. Delworth

Abstract

Observed September Arctic sea ice has declined sharply over the satellite era. While most climate models forced by observed external forcing simulate a decline, few show trends matching the observations, suggesting either model deficiencies or significant contributions from internal variability. Using a set of perturbed climate model experiments, we provide evidence that atmospheric teleconnections associated with the Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) can drive low-frequency Arctic sea ice fluctuations. Even without AMV-related changes in ocean heat transport, AMV-like surface temperature anomalies lead to adjustments in atmospheric circulation patterns that produce similar Arctic sea ice changes in three different climate models. Positive AMV anomalies induce a decrease in the frequency of winter polar anticyclones, which is reflected both in the sea level pressure as a weakening of the Beaufort Sea high and in the surface temperature as warm anomalies in response to increased low-cloud cover. Positive AMV anomalies are also shown to favor an increased prevalence of an Arctic dipole–like sea level pressure pattern in late winter/early spring. The resulting anomalous winds drive anomalous ice motions (dynamic effect). Combined with the reduced winter sea ice formation (thermodynamic effect), the Arctic sea ice becomes thinner, younger, and more prone to melt in summer. Following a phase shift to positive AMV, the resulting atmospheric teleconnections can lead to a decadal ice thinning trend in the Arctic Ocean on the order of 8%–16% of the reconstructed long-term trend, and a decadal trend (decline) in September Arctic sea ice area of up to 21% of the observed long-term trend.

Open access
James A. Carton
,
Stuart A. Cunningham
,
Eleanor Frajka-Williams
,
Young-Oh Kwon
,
David P. Marshall
, and
Rym Msadek
Full access
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Rym Msadek
,
Whit Anderson
,
You-Soon Chang
,
Thomas Delworth
,
Keith Dixon
,
Rich Gudgel
,
Anthony Rosati
,
Bill Stern
,
Gabriele Villarini
,
Andrew Wittenberg
,
Xiaosong Yang
,
Fanrong Zeng
,
Rong Zhang
, and
Shaoqing Zhang
Full access
Rym Msadek
,
T. L. Delworth
,
A. Rosati
,
W. Anderson
,
G. Vecchi
,
Y.-S. Chang
,
K. Dixon
,
R. G. Gudgel
,
W. Stern
,
A. Wittenberg
,
X. Yang
,
F. Zeng
,
R. Zhang
, and
S. Zhang

Abstract

Decadal prediction experiments were conducted as part of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) using the GFDL Climate Model, version 2.1 (CM2.1) forecast system. The abrupt warming of the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre (SPG) that was observed in the mid-1990s is considered as a case study to evaluate forecast capabilities and better understand the reasons for the observed changes. Initializing the CM2.1 coupled system produces high skill in retrospectively predicting the mid-1990s shift, which is not captured by the uninitialized forecasts. All the hindcasts initialized in the early 1990s show a warming of the SPG; however, only the ensemble-mean hindcasts initialized in 1995 and 1996 are able to reproduce the observed abrupt warming and the associated decrease and contraction of the SPG. Examination of the physical mechanisms responsible for the successful retrospective predictions indicates that initializing the ocean is key to predicting the mid-1990s warming. The successful initialized forecasts show an increased Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and North Atlantic Current transport, which drive an increased advection of warm saline subtropical waters northward, leading to a westward shift of the subpolar front and, subsequently, a warming and spindown of the SPG. Significant seasonal climate impacts are predicted as the SPG warms, including a reduced sea ice concentration over the Arctic, an enhanced warming over the central United States during summer and fall, and a northward shift of the mean ITCZ. These climate anomalies are similar to those observed during a warm phase of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, which is encouraging for future predictions of North Atlantic climate.

Full access
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Rym Msadek
,
Whit Anderson
,
You-Soon Chang
,
Thomas Delworth
,
Keith Dixon
,
Rich Gudgel
,
Anthony Rosati
,
Bill Stern
,
Gabriele Villarini
,
Andrew Wittenberg
,
Xiasong Yang
,
Fanrong Zeng
,
Rong Zhang
, and
Shaoqing Zhang

Abstract

Retrospective predictions of multiyear North Atlantic Ocean hurricane frequency are explored by applying a hybrid statistical–dynamical forecast system to initialized and noninitialized multiyear forecasts of tropical Atlantic and tropical-mean sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from two global climate model forecast systems. By accounting for impacts of initialization and radiative forcing, retrospective predictions of 5- and 9-yr mean tropical Atlantic hurricane frequency show significant correlations relative to a null hypothesis of zero correlation. The retrospective correlations are increased in a two-model average forecast and by using a lagged-ensemble approach, with the two-model ensemble decadal forecasts of hurricane frequency over 1961–2011 yielding correlation coefficients that approach 0.9. These encouraging retrospective multiyear hurricane predictions, however, should be interpreted with care: although initialized forecasts have higher nominal skill than uninitialized ones, the relatively short record and large autocorrelation of the time series limits confidence in distinguishing between the skill caused by external forcing and that added by initialization. The nominal increase in correlation in the initialized forecasts relative to the uninitialized experiments is caused by improved representation of the multiyear tropical Atlantic SST anomalies. The skill in the initialized forecasts comes in large part from the persistence of a mid-1990s shift by the initialized forecasts, rather than from predicting its evolution. Predicting shifts like that observed in 1994/95 remains a critical issue for the success of multiyear forecasts of Atlantic hurricane frequency. The retrospective forecasts highlight the possibility that changes in observing system impact forecast performance.

Full access
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Rym Msadek
,
Whit Anderson
,
You-Soon Chang
,
Thomas Delworth
,
Keith Dixon
,
Rich Gudgel
,
Anthony Rosati
,
Bill Stern
,
Gabriele Villarini
,
Andrew Wittenberg
,
Xiasong Yang
,
Fanrong Zeng
,
Rong Zhang
, and
Shaoqing Zhang
Full access