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Yushi Morioka, Sébastien Masson, Pascal Terray, Chloé Prodhomme, Swadhin K. Behera, and Yukio Masumoto

Abstract

Interannual variations of sea surface temperature (SST) in the midlatitudes of the Southern Hemisphere play an important role in the rainfall variability over the surrounding countries by modulating synoptic-scale atmospheric disturbances. These are frequently associated with a northeast–southwest-oriented dipole of positive and negative SST anomalies in each oceanic basin, referred to as a subtropical dipole. This study investigates the role of tropical SST variability on the generation of subtropical dipoles by conducting SST-nudging experiments using a coupled general circulation model. In the experiments where the simulated SST in each tropical basin is nudged to the climatology of the observed SST, the subtropical dipoles tend to occur as frequently as the case in which the simulated SST is allowed to freely interact with the atmosphere. It is found that without the tropical SST variability, the zonally elongated atmospheric mode in the mid- to high latitudes, called the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO), becomes dominant and the stationary Rossby waves related to the AAO induce the sea level pressure (SLP) anomalies in the midlatitudes, which, in turn, generate the subtropical dipoles. These results suggest that the tropical SST variability may not be necessary for generating the subtropical dipoles, and hence provide a useful insight into the important role of the AAO in the midlatitude climate variability.

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Suryachandra A. Rao, Sebastien Masson, Jing-Jia Luo, Swadhin K. Behera, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

Using 200 yr of coupled general circulation model (CGCM) results, causes for the termination of Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) events are investigated. The CGCM used here is the Scale Interaction Experiment-Frontier Research Center for Global Change (SINTEX-F1) model, which consists of a version of the European Community–Hamburg (ECHAM4.6) atmospheric model and a version of the Ocean Parallelise (OPA8.2) ocean general circulation model. This model reproduces reasonably well the present-day climatology and interannual signals of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The main characteristics of the intraseasonal disturbances (ISDs)/oscillations are also fairly well captured by this model. However, the eastward propagation of ISDs in the model is relatively fast in the Indian Ocean and stationary in the Pacific compared to observations.

A sudden reversal of equatorial zonal winds is observed, as a result of significant intraseasonal disturbances in the equatorial Indian Ocean in November–December of IOD events, which evolve independently of ENSO. A majority of these IOD events (15 out of 18) are terminated mainly because of the 20–40-day ISD activity in the equatorial zonal winds. Ocean heat budget analysis in the upper 50 m clearly shows that the initial warming after the peak of the IOD phenomenon is triggered by increased solar radiation owing to clear-sky conditions in the eastern Indian Ocean. Subsequently, the equatorial jets excited by the ISD deepen the thermocline in the southeastern equatorial Indian Ocean. This deepening of the thermocline inhibits the vertical entrainment of cool waters and therefore the IOD is terminated. IOD events that co-occur with ENSO are terminated owing to anomalous incoming solar radiation as a result of prevailing cloud-free skies. Further warming occurs seasonally through the vertical convergence of heat due to a monsoonal wind reversal along Sumatra–Java. On occasion, strong ISD activities in July–August terminated short-lived IOD events by triggering downwelling intraseasonal equatorial Kelvin waves.

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Swen Jullien, Sébastien Masson, Véra Oerder, Guillaume Samson, François Colas, and Lionel Renault

Abstract

Ocean mesoscale eddies are characterized by rotating-like and meandering currents that imprint the low-level atmosphere. Such a current feedback (CFB) has been shown to induce a sink of energy from the ocean to the atmosphere, and consequently to damp the eddy kinetic energy (EKE), with an apparent regional disparity. In a context of increasing model resolution, the importance of this feedback and its dependence on oceanic and atmospheric model resolution arise. Using a hierarchy of quasi-global coupled models with spatial resolutions varying from 1/4° to 1/12°, the present study shows that the CFB induces a negative wind work at scales ranging from 100 to 1000 km, and a subsequent damping of the mesoscale activity by ~30% on average, independently of the model resolution. Regional variations of this damping range from ~20% in very rich eddying regions to ~40% in poor eddying regions. This regional modulation is associated with a different balance between the sink of energy by eddy wind work and the source of EKE by ocean intrinsic instabilities. The efficiency of the CFB is also shown to be a function of the surface wind magnitude: the larger the wind, the larger the sink of energy. The CFB impact is thus related to both wind and EKE. Its correct representation requires both an ocean model that resolves the mesoscale field adequately and an atmospheric model resolution that matches the ocean effective resolution and allows a realistic representation of wind patterns. These results are crucial for including adequately mesoscale ocean–atmosphere interactions in coupled general circulation models and have strong implications in climate research.

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Lionel Renault, M. Jeroen Molemaker, Jonathan Gula, Sebastien Masson, and James C. McWilliams

Abstract

The Gulf Stream (GS) is known to have a strong influence on climate, for example, by transporting heat from the tropics to higher latitudes. Although the GS transport intensity presents a clear interannual variability, satellite observations reveal its mean path is stable. Numerical models can simulate some characteristics of the mean GS path, but persistent biases keep the GS separation and postseparation unstable and therefore unrealistic. This study investigates how the integration of ocean surface currents into the ocean–atmosphere coupling interface of numerical models impacts the GS. The authors show for the first time that the current feedback, through its eddy killing effect, stabilizes the GS separation and postseparation, resolving long-lasting biases in modeled GS path, at least for the Regional Oceanic Modeling System (ROMS). This key process should therefore be taken into account in oceanic numerical models. Using a set of oceanic and atmospheric coupled and uncoupled simulations, this study shows that the current feedback, by modulating the energy transfer from the atmosphere to the ocean, has two main effects on the ocean. On one hand, by reducing the mean surface stress and thus weakening the mean geostrophic wind work by 30%, the current feedback slows down the whole North Atlantic oceanic gyre, making the GS narrower and its transport weaker. Yet, on the other hand, the current feedback acts as an oceanic eddy killer, reducing the surface eddy kinetic energy by 27%. By inducing a surface stress curl opposite to the current vorticity, it deflects energy from the geostrophic current into the atmosphere and dampens eddies.

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Swadhin K. Behera, Jing-Jia Luo, Sebastien Masson, Pascale Delecluse, Silvio Gualdi, Antonio Navarra, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

The variability in the East African short rains is investigated using 41-yr data from the observation and 200-yr data from a coupled general circulation model known as the Scale Interaction Experiment-Frontier Research Center for Global Change, version 1 (SINTEX-F1). The model-simulated data provide a scope to understand the climate variability in the region with a better statistical confidence. Most of the variability in the model short rains is linked to the basinwide large-scale coupled mode, that is, the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) in the tropical Indian Ocean. The analysis of observed data and model results reveals that the influence of the IOD on short rains is overwhelming as compared to that of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO); the correlation between ENSO and short rains is insignificant when the IOD influence is excluded. The IOD–short rains relationship does not change significantly in a model experiment in which the ENSO influence is removed by decoupling the ocean and atmosphere in the tropical Pacific. The partial correlation analysis of the model data demonstrates that a secondary influence comes from a regional mode located near the African coast.

Inconsistent with the observational findings, the model results show a steady evolution of IOD prior to extreme events of short rains. Dynamically consistent evolution of correlations is found in anomalies of the surface winds, currents, sea surface height, and sea surface temperature. Anomalous changes of the Walker circulation provide a necessary driving mechanism for anomalous moisture transport and convection over the coastal East Africa. The model results nicely augment the observational findings and provide us with a physical basis to consider IOD as a predictor for variations of the short rains. This is demonstrated in detail using the statistical analysis method. The prediction skill of the dipole mode SST index in July and August is 92% for the observation, which scales slightly higher for the model index (96%) in August. As observed in data, the model results show decadal weakening in the relationship between IOD and short rains owing to weakening in the IOD activity.

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Jing-Jia Luo, Sebastien Masson, Swadhin Behera, Satoru Shingu, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

Predictabilities of tropical climate signals are investigated using a relatively high resolution Scale Interaction Experiment–Frontier Research Center for Global Change (FRCGC) coupled GCM (SINTEX-F). Five ensemble forecast members are generated by perturbing the model’s coupling physics, which accounts for the uncertainties of both initial conditions and model physics. Because of the model’s good performance in simulating the climatology and ENSO in the tropical Pacific, a simple coupled SST-nudging scheme generates realistic thermocline and surface wind variations in the equatorial Pacific. Several westerly and easterly wind bursts in the western Pacific are also captured.

Hindcast results for the period 1982–2001 show a high predictability of ENSO. All past El Niño and La Niña events, including the strongest 1997/98 warm episode, are successfully predicted with the anomaly correlation coefficient (ACC) skill scores above 0.7 at the 12-month lead time. The predicted signals of some particular events, however, become weak with a delay in the phase at mid and long lead times. This is found to be related to the intraseasonal wind bursts that are unpredicted beyond a few months of lead time. The model forecasts also show a “spring prediction barrier” similar to that in observations. Spatial SST anomalies, teleconnection, and global drought/flood during three different phases of ENSO are successfully predicted at 9–12-month lead times.

In the tropical North Atlantic and southwestern Indian Ocean, where ENSO has predominant influences, the model shows skillful predictions at the 7–12-month lead times. The distinct signal of the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) event in 1994 is predicted at the 6-month lead time. SST anomalies near the western coast of Australia are also predicted beyond the 12-month lead time because of pronounced decadal signals there.

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