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


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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