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Axel Lauer and Kevin Hamilton

Abstract

Clouds are a key component of the climate system affecting radiative balances and the hydrological cycle. Previous studies from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) showed quite large biases in the simulated cloud climatology affecting all GCMs as well as a remarkable degree of variation among the models that represented the state of the art circa 2005. Here the progress that has been made in recent years is measured by comparing mean cloud properties, interannual variability, and the climatological seasonal cycle from the CMIP5 models with satellite observations and with results from comparable CMIP3 experiments. The focus is on three climate-relevant cloud parameters: cloud amount, liquid water path, and cloud radiative forcing. The comparison shows that intermodel differences are still large in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) simulations, and reveals some small improvements of particular cloud properties in some regions in the CMIP5 ensemble over CMIP3. In CMIP5 there is an improved agreement of the modeled interannual variability of liquid water path and of the modeled longwave cloud forcing over mid- and high-latitude oceans with observations. However, the differences in the simulated cloud climatology from CMIP3 and CMIP5 are generally small, and there is very little to no improvement apparent in the tropical and subtropical regions in CMIP5.

Comparisons of the results from the coupled CMIP5 models with their atmosphere-only versions run with observed SSTs show remarkably similar biases in the simulated cloud climatologies. This suggests the treatments of subgrid-scale cloud and boundary layer processes are directly implicated in the poor performance of current GCMs in simulating realistic cloud fields.

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Takatoshi Sakazaki and Kevin Hamilton

Abstract

We used newly available ERA5 hourly global data to examine the variations of atmospheric circulation on global scales and high frequencies. The space–time spectrum of surface pressure displays a typical red background spectrum but also a striking number of isolated peaks. Some peaks represent astronomically forced tides, but we show that most peaks are manifestations of the ringing of randomly excited global-scale resonant modes, reminiscent of the tones in a spectrum of a vibrating musical instrument. A few such modes have been tentatively identified in earlier observational investigations, but we demonstrate the existence of a large array of normal mode oscillations with periods as short as 2 h. This is a powerful and uniquely detailed confirmation of the predictions of the theory of global oscillations that has its roots in the work of Laplace two centuries ago. The delineation of the properties of the modes provides valuable diagnostic information about the atmospheric circulation. Notably the amplitudes and widths of the normal mode spectral peaks contain information on the forcing mechanisms and energy dissipation for the modes, and the simulation of these properties for each of the many modes we have identified can serve as tests for global climate and weather prediction models.

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Kevin Hamilton and J. D. Mahlman

Abstract

A study has been made of the evolution of the zonal-mean zonal wind and temperature in a multiyear integration of the 40-level, 3° × 3.6° resolution “SKYHI” general circulation model (GCM) that has been developed at GFDL. In the tropical upper stratosphere the mean wind variation is dominated by a strong semiannual oscillation (SAO). The peak SAO amplitude in the model is almost 25 m s−1 and occurs near the 1 mb level. The phase of the SAO near the stratopause is such that maximum westerlies occur shortly after the equinoxes. These features are in good agreement with the available observations. In addition the meridional width of the stratopause SAO in the GCM compares well with observations.

A diagnostic analysis of the zonal-mean momentum balance near the tropical stratopause was performed using the detailed fields archived during the GCM integration. It appears that the easterly accelerations in the model SAO are provided by a combination of (i) divergence of the meridional component of the Eliassen-Palm flux associated with quasi-stationary planetary waves and (ii) mean angular momentum advection by the residual meridional circulation. The effects of the residual circulation dominate in the summer hemisphere, while the eddy contributions are more important in the winter hemisphere. The westerly accelerations in the model SAO result from the convergence of the vertical momentum transport associated with gravity waves that have a broad distribution of space and time scales. Thus, in contrast to some simple theoretical models, large-scale equatorial Kelvin waves appear to play only a very minor role in the dynamics of the SAO in the SKYHI GCM.

A second equatorial SAO amplitude maximum was found in the tropical upper mesosphere of the GCM. This apparently corresponds to the mesopause SAO that has been identified in earlier observational studies. While the observed phase of this oscillation is reproduced in the model, the simulated amplitude is unrealistically small.

The model integration included the computation of the concentration of N2O. The results show a fairly realistic simulation of the semiannual variation of tropical stratospheric N2O mixing ratio seen in satellite observations.

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John N. Koshyk and Kevin Hamilton

Abstract

Horizontal kinetic energy spectra simulated by high-resolution versions of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory SKYHI middle-atmosphere general circulation model are examined. The model versions considered resolve heights between the ground and ∼80 km, and the horizontal grid spacing of the highest-resolution version is about 35 km. Tropospheric kinetic energy spectra show the familiar ∼−3 power-law dependence on horizontal wavenumber for wavelengths between about 5000 and 500 km and have a slope of ∼−5/3 at smaller wavelengths. Qualitatively similar behavior is seen in the stratosphere and mesosphere, but the wavelength marking the transition to the shallow regime increases with height, taking a value of ∼2000 km in the stratosphere and ∼4000 km in the mesosphere.

The global spectral kinetic energy budget for various height ranges is computed as a function of total horizontal wavenumber. Contributions to the kinetic energy tendency from nonlinear advective processes, from conversion of available potential energy, from mechanical fluxes through the horizontal boundaries of the region, and from parameterized subgrid-scale dissipation are all examined. In the troposphere, advective contributions are negative at large scales and positive over the rest of the spectrum. This is consistent with a predominantly downscale nonlinear cascade of kinetic energy into the mesoscale. The global kinetic energy budget in the middle atmosphere differs significantly from that in the troposphere, with the positive contributions at most scales coming predominantly from vertical energy fluxes.

The kinetic energy spectra calculated from two model versions with different horizontal resolution are compared. Differences between the spectra over the resolved range of the lower-resolution version are smallest in the troposphere and increase with height, owing mainly to large differences in the divergent components. The result suggests that the parameterization of dynamical subgrid-scale processes in middle-atmosphere general circulation models, as well as in high-resolution tropospheric general circulation models, may need to be critically reevaluated.

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R. John Wilson and Kevin Hamilton

Abstract

This paper discusses the thermotidal oscillations in simulations performed with a newly developed comprehensive general circulation model of the Martian atmosphere. With reasonable assumptions about the effective thermal inertia of the planetary surface and about the distribution of radiatively active atmospheric aerosol, the model produces both realistic zonal-mean temperature distributions and a diurnal surface pressure oscillation of at least roughly realistic amplitude. With any reasonable aerosol distribution, the simulated diurnal pressure oscillation has a very strong zonal variation, in particular a very pronounced zonal wavenumber-2 modulation. This results from a combination of the prominent wave-2 component in the important boundary forcings (topography and surface thermal inertia) and from the fact that the eastward-propagating zonal wave-1 Kelvin normal mode has a period near 1 sol (a Martian mean solar day of 88 775 s). The importance of global resonance is explicitly demonstrated with a series of calculations in which the global mean temperature is arbitrarily altered. The resonant enhancement of the diurnal wave-1 Kelvin mode is predicted to be strongest in the northern summer season. In the model simulations there is also a strong contribution to the semidiurnal tide from a near-resonant eastward-propagating wave-2 Kelvin mode. It is shown that this is significantly forced by a nonlinear steepening of the diurnal Kelvin wave. The daily variations of near-surface winds in the model are also examined. The results show that the daily march of wind at any location depends strongly on the topography, even on the smallest horizontal scales resolved in the model (∼ few hundred km). The global tides also play an important role in determining the near-surface winds, especially so in very dusty atmospheric conditions.

The results for the diurnal and semidiurnal surface pressure oscillations in seasonal integrations of the model are compared in detail with the observations at the two Viking Lander sites (22°N and 48°N). The observations over much of the year can be reasonably reproduced in simulations with a globally uniform aerosol mixing ratio (and assuming more total aerosol in the northern winter season, when the largest dust storms are generally observed). There are features of the Viking observations that do not seem to be explainable in this way, however. In particular, in early northern summer, the model predicts amplitudes for the diurnal pressure oscillation at both lander sites that are at least a factor of 2 larger than observed. Results are presented showing that the low amplitudes observed could be explained if the dust distribution tended to be concentrated over the highlands, rather than being uniformly mixed. Annual cycle simulators with a version of the model with an interactive dust transport do in fact reveal the tendency of the circulation to organize so that larger dust mixing ratios occur over highlands, particularly near subsolar latitudes. When the model includes globally uniform surface dust injection and parameterized dust sedimentation, the annual cycle of the diurnal and semidiurnal tides at both lander sites can be rather well reproduced, except for the periods of global dust storms. The attempts to simulate the observed rapid evolution of the tidal pressure oscillations during the onset of a global dust atom also demonstrate the importance of a nonuniform dust concentration. Simulations with the version of the model incorporating interactive dust are able to roughly reproduce the Viking observations when a strong zonally uniform dust injection is prescribed in the Southern Hemisphere Tropics and subtropics.

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Bei-Wei Lu, Lionel Pandolfo, and Kevin Hamilton

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A nonlinear principal component analysis (NLPCA) is applied to monthly mean zonal wind observations from January 1956 through December 2007 taken at seven pressure levels between 10 and 70 hPa in the stratosphere near the equator to represent the well-known quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and investigate its variability and structure. The NLPCA is conducted using a simplified two–hidden layer feed-forward neural network that alleviates the problems of nonuniqueness of solutions and data overfitting that plague nonlinear techniques of principal component analysis. The QBO is used as a test bed for the new compact model of NLPCA.

The two nonlinear principal components of the dataset of the equatorial stratospheric zonal winds, determined by the compact NLPCA, offer a clear picture of the QBO. In particular, their structure shows that the QBO phase consists of a predominant 28.3-month cycle that is modulated by an 11-yr cycle as well as by longer cycles. The differences in wind variability between westerly and easterly regimes and between Northern Hemisphere winter and summer seasons and the tendency for a seasonal synchronization of the QBO phases are well captured.

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Kevin Hamilton and Rolando R. Garcia

This paper reports on an investigation into the chronology of El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events during the period from the arrival of Europeans in Peru in 1531 until the year 1841 when conventional barometric data became available in the tropical regions. A number of probable ENSO events can be dated from anecdotal reports of significant rainfall in the coastal desert of northern Peru. In many of the years with anomalous Peruvian rainfall it is also possible to use various types of proxy data to identify aspects of the global teleconnection patterns usually associated with tropical ENSO events.

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Jinhua Yu, Yuqing Wang, and Kevin Hamilton

Abstract

This paper reports on an analysis of the tropical cyclone (TC) potential intensity (PI) and its control parameters in transient global warming simulations. Specifically, the TC PI is calculated for phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3) integrations during the first 70 yr of a transient run forced by a 1% yr−1 CO2 increase. The linear trend over the period is used to project a 70-yr change in relevant model parameters. The results for a 15-model ensemble-mean climate projection show that the thermodynamic potential intensity (THPI) increases on average by 1.0% to ∼3.1% over various TC basins, which is mainly attributed to changes in the disequilibrium in enthalpy between the ocean and atmosphere in the transient response to increasing CO2 concentrations. This modest projected increase in THPI is consistent with that found in other recent studies.

In this paper the effects of evolving large-scale dynamical factors on the projected TC PI are also quantified, using an empirical formation that takes into account the effects of vertical shear and translational speed based on a statistical analysis of present-day observations. Including the dynamical efficiency in the formulation of PI leads to larger projected changes in PI relative to that obtained using just THPI in some basins and smaller projected changes in others. The inclusion of the dynamical efficiency has the largest relative effect in the main development region (MDR) of the North Atlantic, where it leads to a 50% reduction in the projected PI change. Results are also presented for the basin-averaged changes in PI for the climate projections from each of the 15 individual models. There is considerable variation among the results for individual model projections, and for some models the projected increase in PI in the eastern Pacific and south Indian Ocean regions exceeds 10%.

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Markus Stowasser, Kevin Hamilton, and George J. Boer

Abstract

The climatic response to a 5% increase in solar constant is analyzed in three coupled global ocean–atmosphere general circulation models, the NCAR Climate System Model version 1 (CSM1), the Community Climate System Model version 2 (CCSM2), and the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma) Coupled General Circulation Model version 3 (CGCM3). For this simple perturbation the quantitative values of the radiative climate forcing at the top of the atmosphere can be determined very accurately simply from a knowledge of the shortwave fluxes in the control run. The climate sensitivity and the geographical pattern of climate feedbacks, and of the shortwave, longwave, clear-sky, and cloud components in each model, are diagnosed as the climate evolves. After a period of adjustment of a few years, both the magnitude and pattern of the feedbacks become reasonably stable with time, implying that they may be accurately determined from relatively short integrations.

The global-mean forcing at the top of the atmosphere due to the solar constant change is almost identical in the three models. The exact value of the forcing in each case is compared with that inferred by regressing annual-mean top-of-the-atmosphere radiative imbalance against mean surface temperature change. This regression approach yields a value close to the directly diagnosed forcing for the CCCma model, but a value only within about 25% of the directly diagnosed forcing for the two NCAR models. These results indicate that this regression approach may have some practical limitation in its application, at least for some models.

The global climate sensitivities differ among the models by almost a factor of 2, and, despite an overall apparent similarity, the spatial patterns of the climate feedbacks are only modestly correlated among the three models. An exception is the clear-sky shortwave feedback, which agrees well in both magnitude and spatial pattern among the models. The biggest discrepancies are in the shortwave cloud feedback, particularly in the tropical and subtropical regions where it is strongly negative in the NCAR models but weakly positive in the CCCma model. Almost all of the difference in the global-mean total feedback (and climate sensitivity) among the models is attributable to the shortwave cloud feedback component.

All three models exhibit a region of positive feedback in the equatorial Pacific, which is surrounded by broad areas of negative feedback. These positive feedback regions appear to be associated with a local maximum of the surface warming. However, the models differ in the zonal structure of this surface warming, which ranges from a mean El Niño–like warming in the eastern Pacific in the CCCma model to a far-western Pacific maximum of warming in the NCAR CCSM2 model. A separate simulation with the CCSM2 model, in which these tropical Pacific zonal gradients of surface warming are artificially suppressed, shows no region of positive radiative feedback in the tropical Pacific. However, the global-mean feedback is only modestly changed in this constrained run, suggesting that the processes that produce the positive feedback in the tropical Pacific region may not contribute importantly to global-mean feedback and climate sensitivity.

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Tiehan Zhou, Marvin A. Geller, and Kevin Hamilton

Abstract

Several idealized models of tropical upwelling are presented in order to clarify the roles of the nonlinear Hadley circulation and extratropical wave driving. In particular, it is shown that the Hadley circulation and wave-driven circulation interact to determine the nature of tropical upwelling. The authors explain several observed features such as maximum upwelling in the summer subtropics and the annual variation of the upwelling.

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