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J. A. Dumas, G. M. Flato, and R. D. Brown

Abstract

Projections of future landfast ice thickness and duration were generated for nine sites in the Canadian Arctic and one site on the Labrador coast with a simple downscaling technique that used a one-dimensional sea ice model driven by observationally based forcing and superimposed projected future climate change from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis global climate model (CGCM2). For the Canadian Arctic sites the downscaling approach indicated a decrease in maximum ice thickness of 30 and 50 cm and a reduction in ice cover duration of 1 and 2 months by 2041–60 and 2081–2100, respectively. In contrast, there is a slight increase in simulated landfast ice thickness and duration at Cartwright in the future due to its sensitivity to snow–ice formation with increased snowfall and to a projected slight cooling over this site (along the Labrador coast) by CGCM2. The magnitude of simulated changes in freeze-up and break-up date was largest for freeze up (e.g., 52 days later at Alert by 2081–2100), and freeze-up date changes exhibited much greater regional variability than break up, which was simulated to be 30 days earlier by 2081–2100 over the Canadian Arctic sites.

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Josephine R. Brown, Scott B. Power, Francois P. Delage, Robert A. Colman, Aurel F. Moise, and Bradley F. Murphy

Abstract

Understanding how the South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ) may change in the future requires the use of global coupled atmosphere–ocean models. It is therefore important to evaluate the ability of such models to realistically simulate the SPCZ. The simulation of the SPCZ in 24 coupled model simulations of the twentieth century is examined. The models and simulations are those used for the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The seasonal climatology and interannual variability of the SPCZ is evaluated using observed and model precipitation. Twenty models simulate a distinct SPCZ, while four models merge intertropical convergence zone and SPCZ precipitation. The majority of models simulate an SPCZ with an overly zonal orientation, rather than extending in a diagonal band into the southeast Pacific as observed. Two-thirds of models capture the observed meridional displacement of the SPCZ during El Niño and La Niña events. The four models that use ocean heat flux adjustments simulate a better tropical SPCZ pattern because of a better representation of the Pacific sea surface temperature pattern and absence of cold sea surface temperature biases on the equator. However, the flux-adjusted models do not show greater skill in simulating the interannual variability of the SPCZ. While a small subset of models does not adequately reproduce the climatology or variability of the SPCZ, the majority of models are able to capture the main features of SPCZ climatology and variability, and they can therefore be used with some confidence for future climate projections.

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L. A. Vincent, X. Zhang, R. D. Brown, Y. Feng, E. Mekis, E. J. Milewska, H. Wan, and X. L. Wang

Abstract

Trends in Canada’s climate are analyzed using recently updated data to provide a comprehensive view of climate variability and long-term changes over the period of instrumental record. Trends in surface air temperature, precipitation, snow cover, and streamflow indices are examined along with the potential impact of low-frequency variability related to large-scale atmospheric and oceanic oscillations on these trends. The results show that temperature has increased significantly in most regions of Canada over the period 1948–2012, with the largest warming occurring in winter and spring. Precipitation has also increased, especially in the north. Changes in other climate and hydroclimatic variables, including a decrease in the amount of precipitation falling as snow in the south, fewer days with snow cover, an earlier start of the spring high-flow season, and an increase in April streamflow, are consistent with the observed warming and precipitation trends. For the period 1900–2012, there are sufficient temperature and precipitation data for trend analysis for southern Canada (south of 60°N) only. During this period, temperature has increased significantly across the region, precipitation has increased, and the amount of precipitation falling as snow has decreased in many areas south of 55°N. The results also show that modes of low-frequency variability modulate the spatial distribution and strength of the trends; however, they alone cannot explain the observed long-term trends in these climate variables.

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