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Chris Wilson, Bablu Sinha, and Richard G. Williams

Abstract

The control of atmospheric storm tracks by ocean dynamics, orography, and their interaction is investigated using idealized experiments with a simplified coupled atmosphere–ocean climate model. The study focuses on the quasi–steady state for the storm tracks in the Northern Hemisphere winter mean. The experiments start with a background state without mountains and ocean dynamics, and in separate stages include orography and a dynamic ocean to obtain a more realistic control simulation. The separate effects of ocean dynamics, orography, and their nonlinear interaction are identified for the storm tracks and the surface thermodynamic forcing over the ocean.

The model study suggests that atmospheric storm tracks are a robust feature of the climate system, occurring at midlatitudes even if there is no orographic forcing or ocean heat transport. Ocean dynamics generally lead to a poleward shift in both the storm track and the maximum in atmospheric northward heat transport and induce a northeastward tilt over the Atlantic. This poleward shift is linked to the extra heat transport by the ocean and the tightening of sea surface temperature gradients on the western side of ocean basins. Orographic forcing causes along-track variability with a weakening of the storm track over the continents and induces a northeastward tilt over the western Pacific, which is associated with a stationary planetary wave train generated by the Tibetan Plateau. The interaction between ocean dynamics and orographic forcing plays a localized role, enhancing the contrast between the Atlantic and Pacific. Much of the response to the forcing is eddy mediated and transient eddies help to spread the influence of orographic and ocean forcing.

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Leo J. Donner, Bruce L. Wyman, Richard S. Hemler, Larry W. Horowitz, Yi Ming, Ming Zhao, Jean-Christophe Golaz, Paul Ginoux, S.-J. Lin, M. Daniel Schwarzkopf, John Austin, Ghassan Alaka, William F. Cooke, Thomas L. Delworth, Stuart M. Freidenreich, C. T. Gordon, Stephen M. Griffies, Isaac M. Held, William J. Hurlin, Stephen A. Klein, Thomas R. Knutson, Amy R. Langenhorst, Hyun-Chul Lee, Yanluan Lin, Brian I. Magi, Sergey L. Malyshev, P. C. D. Milly, Vaishali Naik, Mary J. Nath, Robert Pincus, Jeffrey J. Ploshay, V. Ramaswamy, Charles J. Seman, Elena Shevliakova, Joseph J. Sirutis, William F. Stern, Ronald J. Stouffer, R. John Wilson, Michael Winton, Andrew T. Wittenberg, and Fanrong Zeng

Abstract

The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) has developed a coupled general circulation model (CM3) for the atmosphere, oceans, land, and sea ice. The goal of CM3 is to address emerging issues in climate change, including aerosol–cloud interactions, chemistry–climate interactions, and coupling between the troposphere and stratosphere. The model is also designed to serve as the physical system component of earth system models and models for decadal prediction in the near-term future—for example, through improved simulations in tropical land precipitation relative to earlier-generation GFDL models. This paper describes the dynamical core, physical parameterizations, and basic simulation characteristics of the atmospheric component (AM3) of this model. Relative to GFDL AM2, AM3 includes new treatments of deep and shallow cumulus convection, cloud droplet activation by aerosols, subgrid variability of stratiform vertical velocities for droplet activation, and atmospheric chemistry driven by emissions with advective, convective, and turbulent transport. AM3 employs a cubed-sphere implementation of a finite-volume dynamical core and is coupled to LM3, a new land model with ecosystem dynamics and hydrology. Its horizontal resolution is approximately 200 km, and its vertical resolution ranges approximately from 70 m near the earth’s surface to 1 to 1.5 km near the tropopause and 3 to 4 km in much of the stratosphere. Most basic circulation features in AM3 are simulated as realistically, or more so, as in AM2. In particular, dry biases have been reduced over South America. In coupled mode, the simulation of Arctic sea ice concentration has improved. AM3 aerosol optical depths, scattering properties, and surface clear-sky downward shortwave radiation are more realistic than in AM2. The simulation of marine stratocumulus decks remains problematic, as in AM2. The most intense 0.2% of precipitation rates occur less frequently in AM3 than observed. The last two decades of the twentieth century warm in CM3 by 0.32°C relative to 1881–1920. The Climate Research Unit (CRU) and Goddard Institute for Space Studies analyses of observations show warming of 0.56° and 0.52°C, respectively, over this period. CM3 includes anthropogenic cooling by aerosol–cloud interactions, and its warming by the late twentieth century is somewhat less realistic than in CM2.1, which warmed 0.66°C but did not include aerosol–cloud interactions. The improved simulation of the direct aerosol effect (apparent in surface clear-sky downward radiation) in CM3 evidently acts in concert with its simulation of cloud–aerosol interactions to limit greenhouse gas warming.

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