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S. C. Hardiman, N. Butchart, T. J. Hinton, S. M. Osprey, and L. J. Gray

Abstract

The importance of using a general circulation model that includes a well-resolved stratosphere for climate simulations, and particularly the influence this has on surface climate, is investigated. High top model simulations are run with the Met Office Unified Model for the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). These simulations are compared to equivalent simulations run using a low top model differing only in vertical extent and vertical resolution above 15 km. The period 1960–2002 is analyzed and compared to observations and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis dataset. Long-term climatology, variability, and trends in surface temperature and sea ice, along with the variability of the annular mode index, are found to be insensitive to the addition of a well-resolved stratosphere. The inclusion of a well-resolved stratosphere, however, does improve the impact of atmospheric teleconnections on surface climate, in particular the response to El Niño–Southern Oscillation, the quasi-biennial oscillation, and midwinter stratospheric sudden warmings (i.e., zonal mean wind reversals in the middle stratosphere). Thus, including a well-represented stratosphere could improve climate simulation on intraseasonal to interannual time scales.

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Steven C. Hardiman, Ian A. Boutle, Andrew C. Bushell, Neal Butchart, Mike J. P. Cullen, Paul R. Field, Kalli Furtado, James C. Manners, Sean F. Milton, Cyril Morcrette, Fiona M. O’Connor, Ben J. Shipway, Chris Smith, David N. Walters, Martin R. Willett, Keith D. Williams, Nigel Wood, N. Luke Abraham, James Keeble, Amanda C. Maycock, John Thuburn, and Matthew T. Woodhouse

Abstract

A warm bias in tropical tropopause temperature is found in the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM), in common with most models from phase 5 of CMIP (CMIP5). Key dynamical, microphysical, and radiative processes influencing the tropical tropopause temperature and lower-stratospheric water vapor concentrations in climate models are investigated using the MetUM. A series of sensitivity experiments are run to separate the effects of vertical advection, ice optical and microphysical properties, convection, cirrus clouds, and atmospheric composition on simulated tropopause temperature and lower-stratospheric water vapor concentrations in the tropics. The numerical accuracy of the vertical advection, determined in the MetUM by the choice of interpolation and conservation schemes used, is found to be particularly important. Microphysical and radiative processes are found to influence stratospheric water vapor both through modifying the tropical tropopause temperature and through modifying upper-tropospheric water vapor concentrations, allowing more water vapor to be advected into the stratosphere. The representation of any of the processes discussed can act to significantly reduce biases in tropical tropopause temperature and stratospheric water vapor in a physical way, thereby improving climate simulations.

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