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Peter A. Stott, John F. B. Mitchell, Myles R. Allen, Thomas L. Delworth, Jonathan M. Gregory, Gerald A. Meehl, and Benjamin D. Santer

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of aerosol forcing uncertainty on the robustness of estimates of the twentieth-century warming attributable to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Attribution analyses on three coupled climate models with very different sensitivities and aerosol forcing are carried out. The Third Hadley Centre Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere GCM (HadCM3), Parallel Climate Model (PCM), and GFDL R30 models all provide good simulations of twentieth-century global mean temperature changes when they include both anthropogenic and natural forcings. Such good agreement could result from a fortuitous cancellation of errors, for example, by balancing too much (or too little) greenhouse warming by too much (or too little) aerosol cooling.

Despite a very large uncertainty for estimates of the possible range of sulfate aerosol forcing obtained from measurement campaigns, results show that the spatial and temporal nature of observed twentieth-century temperature change constrains the component of past warming attributable to anthropogenic greenhouse gases to be significantly greater (at the 5% level) than the observed warming over the twentieth century. The cooling effects of aerosols are detected in all three models.

Both spatial and temporal aspects of observed temperature change are responsible for constraining the relative roles of greenhouse warming and sulfate cooling over the twentieth century. This is because there are distinctive temporal structures in differential warming rates between the hemispheres, between land and ocean, and between mid- and low latitudes. As a result, consistent estimates of warming attributable to greenhouse gas emissions are obtained from all three models, and predictions are relatively robust to the use of more or less sensitive models. The transient climate response following a 1% yr−1 increase in CO2 is estimated to lie between 2.2 and 4 K century−1 (5–95 percentiles).

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Rong Zhang, Thomas L. Delworth, Rowan Sutton, Daniel L. R. Hodson, Keith W. Dixon, Isaac M. Held, Yochanan Kushnir, John Marshall, Yi Ming, Rym Msadek, Jon Robson, Anthony J. Rosati, MingFang Ting, and Gabriel A. Vecchi

Abstract

Identifying the prime drivers of the twentieth-century multidecadal variability in the Atlantic Ocean is crucial for predicting how the Atlantic will evolve in the coming decades and the resulting broad impacts on weather and precipitation patterns around the globe. Recently, Booth et al. showed that the Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model, version 2, Earth system configuration (HadGEM2-ES) closely reproduces the observed multidecadal variations of area-averaged North Atlantic sea surface temperature in the twentieth century. The multidecadal variations simulated in HadGEM2-ES are primarily driven by aerosol indirect effects that modify net surface shortwave radiation. On the basis of these results, Booth et al. concluded that aerosols are a prime driver of twentieth-century North Atlantic climate variability. However, here it is shown that there are major discrepancies between the HadGEM2-ES simulations and observations in the North Atlantic upper-ocean heat content, in the spatial pattern of multidecadal SST changes within and outside the North Atlantic, and in the subpolar North Atlantic sea surface salinity. These discrepancies may be strongly influenced by, and indeed in large part caused by, aerosol effects. It is also shown that the aerosol effects simulated in HadGEM2-ES cannot account for the observed anticorrelation between detrended multidecadal surface and subsurface temperature variations in the tropical North Atlantic. These discrepancies cast considerable doubt on the claim that aerosol forcing drives the bulk of this multidecadal variability.

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Liwei Jia, Xiaosong Yang, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Richard G. Gudgel, Thomas L. Delworth, Anthony Rosati, William F. Stern, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Lakshmi Krishnamurthy, Shaoqing Zhang, Rym Msadek, Sarah Kapnick, Seth Underwood, Fanrong Zeng, Whit G. Anderson, Venkatramani Balaji, and Keith Dixon

Abstract

This study demonstrates skillful seasonal prediction of 2-m air temperature and precipitation over land in a new high-resolution climate model developed by the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and explores the possible sources of the skill. The authors employ a statistical optimization approach to identify the most predictable components of seasonal mean temperature and precipitation over land and demonstrate the predictive skill of these components. First, the improved skill of the high-resolution model over the previous lower-resolution model in seasonal prediction of the Niño-3.4 index and other aspects of interest is shown. Then, the skill of temperature and precipitation in the high-resolution model for boreal winter and summer is measured, and the sources of the skill are diagnosed. Last, predictions are reconstructed using a few of the most predictable components to yield more skillful predictions than the raw model predictions. Over three decades of hindcasts, the two most predictable components of temperature are characterized by a component that is likely due to changes in external radiative forcing in boreal winter and summer and an ENSO-related pattern in boreal winter. The most predictable components of precipitation in both seasons are very likely ENSO-related. These components of temperature and precipitation can be predicted with significant correlation skill at least 9 months in advance. The reconstructed predictions using only the first few predictable components from the model show considerably better skill relative to observations than raw model predictions. This study shows that the use of refined statistical analysis and a high-resolution dynamical model leads to significant skill in seasonal predictions of 2-m air temperature and precipitation over land.

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Stephen M. Griffies, Michael Winton, Whit G. Anderson, Rusty Benson, Thomas L. Delworth, Carolina O. Dufour, John P. Dunne, Paul Goddard, Adele K. Morrison, Anthony Rosati, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Jianjun Yin, and Rong Zhang

Abstract

The authors characterize impacts on heat in the ocean climate system from transient ocean mesoscale eddies. Their tool is a suite of centennial-scale 1990 radiatively forced numerical climate simulations from three GFDL coupled models comprising the Climate Model, version 2.0–Ocean (CM2-O), model suite. CM2-O models differ in their ocean resolution: CM2.6 uses a 0.1° ocean grid, CM2.5 uses an intermediate grid with 0.25° spacing, and CM2-1deg uses a nominal 1.0° grid.

Analysis of the ocean heat budget reveals that mesoscale eddies act to transport heat upward in a manner that partially compensates (or offsets) for the downward heat transport from the time-mean currents. Stronger vertical eddy heat transport in CM2.6 relative to CM2.5 accounts for the significantly smaller temperature drift in CM2.6. The mesoscale eddy parameterization used in CM2-1deg also imparts an upward heat transport, yet it differs systematically from that found in CM2.6. This analysis points to the fundamental role that ocean mesoscale features play in transient ocean heat uptake. In general, the more accurate simulation found in CM2.6 provides an argument for either including a rich representation of the ocean mesoscale in model simulations of the mean and transient climate or for employing parameterizations that faithfully reflect the role of eddies in both lateral and vertical heat transport.

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Xiaosong Yang, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Rich G. Gudgel, Thomas L. Delworth, Shaoqing Zhang, Anthony Rosati, Liwei Jia, William F. Stern, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Sarah Kapnick, Rym Msadek, Seth D. Underwood, Fanrong Zeng, Whit Anderson, and Venkatramani Balaji

Abstract

The seasonal predictability of extratropical storm tracks in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory’s (GFDL)’s high-resolution climate model has been investigated using an average predictability time analysis. The leading predictable components of extratropical storm tracks are the ENSO-related spatial patterns for both boreal winter and summer, and the second predictable components are mostly due to changes in external radiative forcing and multidecadal oceanic variability. These two predictable components for both seasons show significant correlation skill for all leads from 0 to 9 months, while the skill of predicting the boreal winter storm track is consistently higher than that of the austral winter. The predictable components of extratropical storm tracks are dynamically consistent with the predictable components of the upper troposphere jet flow for both seasons. Over the region with strong storm-track signals in North America, the model is able to predict the changes in statistics of extremes connected to storm-track changes (e.g., extreme low and high sea level pressure and extreme 2-m air temperature) in response to different ENSO phases. These results point toward the possibility of providing skillful seasonal predictions of the statistics of extratropical extremes over land using high-resolution coupled models.

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Xiaosong Yang, Anthony Rosati, Shaoqing Zhang, Thomas L. Delworth, Rich G. Gudgel, Rong Zhang, Gabriel Vecchi, Whit Anderson, You-Soon Chang, Timothy DelSole, Keith Dixon, Rym Msadek, William F. Stern, Andrew Wittenberg, and Fanrong Zeng

Abstract

The decadal predictability of sea surface temperature (SST) and 2-m air temperature (T2m) in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) decadal hindcasts, which are part of the Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project experiments, has been investigated using an average predictability time (APT) analysis. Comparison of retrospective forecasts initialized using the GFDL Ensemble Coupled Data Assimilation system with uninitialized historical forcing simulations using the same model allows identification of the internal multidecadal pattern (IMP) for SST and T2m. The IMP of SST is characterized by an interhemisphere dipole, with warm anomalies centered in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre region and North Pacific subpolar gyre region, and cold anomalies centered in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current region. The IMP of T2m is characterized by a general bipolar seesaw, with warm anomalies centered in Greenland and cold anomalies centered in Antarctica. The retrospective prediction skill of the initialized system, verified against independent observational datasets, indicates that the IMP of SST may be predictable up to 4 (10) yr lead time at 95% (90%) significance level, and the IMP of T2m may be predictable up to 2 (10) yr at the 95% (90%) significance level. The initialization of multidecadal variations of northward oceanic heat transport in the North Atlantic significantly improves the predictive skill of the IMP. The dominant roles of oceanic internal dynamics in decadal prediction are further elucidated by fixed-forcing experiments in which radiative forcing is returned abruptly to 1961 values. These results point toward the possibility of meaningful decadal climate outlooks using dynamical coupled models if they are appropriately initialized from a sustained climate observing system.

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Thomas L. Delworth, Anthony Rosati, Whit Anderson, Alistair J. Adcroft, V. Balaji, Rusty Benson, Keith Dixon, Stephen M. Griffies, Hyun-Chul Lee, Ronald C. Pacanowski, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Fanrong Zeng, and Rong Zhang

Abstract

The authors present results for simulated climate and climate change from a newly developed high-resolution global climate model [Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model version 2.5 (GFDL CM2.5)]. The GFDL CM2.5 has an atmospheric resolution of approximately 50 km in the horizontal, with 32 vertical levels. The horizontal resolution in the ocean ranges from 28 km in the tropics to 8 km at high latitudes, with 50 vertical levels. This resolution allows the explicit simulation of some mesoscale eddies in the ocean, particularly at lower latitudes.

Analyses are presented based on the output of a 280-yr control simulation; also presented are results based on a 140-yr simulation in which atmospheric CO2 increases at 1% yr−1 until doubling after 70 yr.

Results are compared to GFDL CM2.1, which has somewhat similar physics but a coarser resolution. The simulated climate in CM2.5 shows marked improvement over many regions, especially the tropics, including a reduction in the double ITCZ and an improved simulation of ENSO. Regional precipitation features are much improved. The Indian monsoon and Amazonian rainfall are also substantially more realistic in CM2.5.

The response of CM2.5 to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 has many features in common with CM2.1, with some notable differences. For example, rainfall changes over the Mediterranean appear to be tightly linked to topography in CM2.5, in contrast to CM2.1 where the response is more spatially homogeneous. In addition, in CM2.5 the near-surface ocean warms substantially in the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean, in contrast to simulations using CM2.1.

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Hiroyuki Murakami, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Seth Underwood, Thomas L. Delworth, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Whit G. Anderson, Jan-Huey Chen, Richard G. Gudgel, Lucas M. Harris, Shian-Jiann Lin, and Fanrong Zeng

Abstract

A new high-resolution Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) coupled model [the High-Resolution Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution (FLOR) model (HiFLOR)] has been developed and used to investigate potential skill in simulation and prediction of tropical cyclone (TC) activity. HiFLOR comprises high-resolution (~25-km mesh) atmosphere and land components and a more moderate-resolution (~100-km mesh) sea ice and ocean component. HiFLOR was developed from FLOR by decreasing the horizontal grid spacing of the atmospheric component from 50 to 25 km, while leaving most of the subgrid-scale physical parameterizations unchanged. Compared with FLOR, HiFLOR yields a more realistic simulation of the structure, global distribution, and seasonal and interannual variations of TCs, as well as a comparable simulation of storm-induced cold wakes and TC-genesis modulation induced by the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). Moreover, HiFLOR is able to simulate and predict extremely intense TCs (Saffir–Simpson hurricane categories 4 and 5) and their interannual variations, which represents the first time a global coupled model has been able to simulate such extremely intense TCs in a multicentury simulation, sea surface temperature restoring simulations, and retrospective seasonal predictions.

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Anand Gnanadesikan, Keith W. Dixon, Stephen M. Griffies, V. Balaji, Marcelo Barreiro, J. Anthony Beesley, William F. Cooke, Thomas L. Delworth, Rudiger Gerdes, Matthew J. Harrison, Isaac M. Held, William J. Hurlin, Hyun-Chul Lee, Zhi Liang, Giang Nong, Ronald C. Pacanowski, Anthony Rosati, Joellen Russell, Bonita L. Samuels, Qian Song, Michael J. Spelman, Ronald J. Stouffer, Colm O. Sweeney, Gabriel Vecchi, Michael Winton, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Fanrong Zeng, Rong Zhang, and John P. Dunne

Abstract

The current generation of coupled climate models run at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) as part of the Climate Change Science Program contains ocean components that differ in almost every respect from those contained in previous generations of GFDL climate models. This paper summarizes the new physical features of the models and examines the simulations that they produce. Of the two new coupled climate model versions 2.1 (CM2.1) and 2.0 (CM2.0), the CM2.1 model represents a major improvement over CM2.0 in most of the major oceanic features examined, with strikingly lower drifts in hydrographic fields such as temperature and salinity, more realistic ventilation of the deep ocean, and currents that are closer to their observed values. Regional analysis of the differences between the models highlights the importance of wind stress in determining the circulation, particularly in the Southern Ocean. At present, major errors in both models are associated with Northern Hemisphere Mode Waters and outflows from overflows, particularly the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.

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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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