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Lori T. Sentman, Elena Shevliakova, Ronald J. Stouffer, and Sergey Malyshev

Abstract

The dynamic vegetation and carbon cycling component, LM3V, of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) prototype Earth system model (ESM2.1), has been designed to simulate the effects of land use on terrestrial carbon pools, including secondary vegetation regrowth. Because of the long time scales associated with the carbon adjustment, special consideration is required when initializing the ESM when historical simulations are conducted. Starting from an equilibrated, preindustrial climate and potential vegetation state in an offline land-only model (LM3V), estimates of historical land use are instantaneously applied in five experiments beginning in the following calendar years: 1500, 1600, 1700, 1750, and 1800. This application results in the land carbon pools experiencing an abrupt change—a carbon shock—and the secondary vegetation needs time to regrow into consistency with the harvesting history. The authors find that it takes approximately 100 years for the vegetation to recover from the carbon shock, whereas soils take at least 150 years to recover. The vegetation carbon response is driven primarily by land-use history, whereas the soil carbon response is affected by both land-use history and the geographic pattern of soil respiration rates. Based on these results, the authors recommend the application of historical land-use scenarios in 1700 to provide sufficient time for the land carbon in ESMs with secondary vegetation to equilibrate to adequately simulate carbon stores at the start of the historical integrations (i.e., 1860) in a computationally efficient manner.

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Sarah C. B. Raper, Jonathan M. Gregory, and Ronald J. Stouffer

Abstract

The role of climate sensitivity and ocean heat uptake in determining the range of climate model response is investigated in the second phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP2) AOGCM results. The fraction of equilibrium warming that is realized at any one time is less in those models with higher climate sensitivity, leading to a reduction in the temperature response range at the time of CO2 doubling [transient climate response (TCR) range]. The range is reduced by a further 15% because of an apparent relationship between climate sensitivity and the efficiency of ocean heat uptake. Some possible physical causes for this relationship are suggested.

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Joellen L. Russell, Ronald J. Stouffer, and Keith W. Dixon

Abstract

The analyses presented here focus on the Southern Ocean as simulated in a set of global coupled climate model control experiments conducted by several international climate modeling groups. Dominated by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), the vast Southern Ocean can influence large-scale surface climate features on various time scales. Its climatic relevance stems in part from it being the region where most of the transformation of the World Ocean’s water masses occurs. In climate change experiments that simulate greenhouse gas–induced warming, Southern Ocean air–sea heat fluxes and three-dimensional circulation patterns make it a region where much of the future oceanic heat storage takes place, though the magnitude of that heat storage is one of the larger sources of uncertainty associated with the transient climate response in such model projections. Factors such as the Southern Ocean’s wind forcing, heat, and salt budgets are linked to the structure and transport of the ACC in ways that have not been expressed clearly in the literature. These links are explored here in a coupled model context by analyzing a sizable suite of preindustrial control experiments associated with the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report. A framework is developed that uses measures of coupled model simulation characteristics, primarily those related to the Southern Ocean wind forcing and water mass properties, to allow one to categorize, and to some extent predict, which models do better or worse at simulating the Southern Ocean and why. Hopefully, this framework will also lead to increased understanding of the ocean’s response to climate changes.

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Sergey Malyshev, Elena Shevliakova, Ronald J. Stouffer, and Stephen W. Pacala

Abstract

The effects of land-use and land-cover change (LULCC) on surface climate using two ensembles of numerical experiments with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) comprehensive Earth System Model ESM2Mb are investigated in this study. The experiments simulate historical climate with two different assumptions about LULCC: 1) no land-use change with potential vegetation (PV) and 2) with the CMIP5 historical reconstruction of LULCC (LU). Two different approaches were used in the analysis: 1) the authors compare differences in LU and PV climates to evaluate the regional and global effects of LULCC and 2) the authors characterize subgrid climate differences among different land-use tiles within each grid cell in the LU experiment. Using the first method, the authors estimate the magnitude of LULCC effect to be similar to some previous studies. Using the second method, the authors found a pronounced subgrid signal of LULCC in near-surface temperature over majority of areas affected by LULCC. The signal is strongest on croplands, where it is detectable with 95% confidence over 68.5% of all nonglaciated land grid cells in June–July–August, compared to 8.3% in the first method. In agricultural areas, the subgrid signal tends to be stronger than LU–PV signal by a factor of 1.3 in tropics in both summer and winter and by 1.5 in extratropics in winter. This analysis for the first time demonstrates and quantifies the local, subgrid-scale LULCC effects with a comprehensive ESM and compares it to previous global and regional approaches.

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Jianjun Yin, Stephen M. Griffies, and Ronald J. Stouffer

Abstract

A set of state-of-the-science climate models are used to investigate global sea level rise (SLR) patterns induced by ocean dynamics in twenty-first-century climate projections. The identified robust features include bipolar and bihemisphere seesaws in the basin-wide SLR, dipole patterns in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, and a beltlike pattern in the Southern Ocean. The physical and dynamical mechanisms that cause these patterns are investigated in detail using version 2.1 of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) Coupled Model (CM2.1). Under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario, the steric sea level changes relative to the global mean (the local part) in different ocean basins are attributed to differential heating and salinity changes of various ocean layers and associated physical processes. As a result of these changes, water tends to move from the ocean interior to continental shelves. In the North Atlantic, sea level rises north of the Gulf Stream but falls to the south. The dipole pattern is induced by a weakening of the meridional overturning circulation. This weakening leads to a local steric SLR east of North America, which drives more waters toward the shelf, directly impacting northeastern North America. An opposite dipole occurs in the North Pacific. The dynamic SLR east of Japan is linked to a strong steric effect in the upper ocean and a poleward expansion of the subtropical gyre. In the Southern Ocean, the beltlike pattern is dominated by the baroclinic process during the twenty-first century, while the barotropic response of sea level to wind stress anomalies is significantly delayed.

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Jianjun Yin, Ronald J. Stouffer, Michael J. Spelman, and Stephen M. Griffies

Abstract

The unphysical virtual salt flux (VSF) formulation widely used in the ocean component of climate models has the potential to cause systematic and significant biases in modeling the climate system and projecting its future evolution. Here a freshwater flux (FWF) and a virtual salt flux version of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model version 2.1 (GFDL CM2.1) are used to evaluate and quantify the uncertainties induced by the VSF formulation. Both unforced and forced runs with the two model versions are performed and compared in detail. It is found that the differences between the two versions are generally small or statistically insignificant in the unforced control runs and in the runs with a small external forcing. In response to a large external forcing, however, some biases in the VSF version become significant, especially the responses of regional salinity and global sea level. However, many fundamental aspects of the responses differ only quantitatively between the two versions. An unexpected result is the distinctly different ENSO responses. Under a strong external freshwater forcing, the great enhancement of the ENSO variability simulated by the FWF version does not occur in the VSF version and is caused by the overexpansion of the top model layer. In summary, the principle assumption behind using virtual salt flux is not seriously violated and the VSF model has the ability to simulate the current climate and project near-term climate evolution. For some special studies such as a large hosing experiment, however, both the VSF formulation and the use of the FWF in the geopotential coordinate ocean model could have some deficiencies and one should be cautious to avoid them.

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Joellen L. Russell, Keith W. Dixon, Anand Gnanadesikan, Ronald J. Stouffer, and J. R. Toggweiler

Abstract

A coupled climate model with poleward-intensified westerly winds simulates significantly higher storage of heat and anthropogenic carbon dioxide by the Southern Ocean in the future when compared with the storage in a model with initially weaker, equatorward-biased westerlies. This difference results from the larger outcrop area of the dense waters around Antarctica and more vigorous divergence, which remains robust even as rising atmospheric greenhouse gas levels induce warming that reduces the density of surface waters in the Southern Ocean. These results imply that the impact of warming on the stratification of the global ocean may be reduced by the poleward intensification of the westerlies, allowing the ocean to remove additional heat and anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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Jin-Song von Storch, Peter Müller, Ronald J. Stouffer, Reinhard Voss, and Simon F. B. Tett

Abstract

This paper studies the variability of deep-ocean mass transport using four 1000-yr integrations performed with coupled general circulation models. Statistics describing the spectral and spatial features are considered. It is shown that these features depend crucially on the time-mean state. For the transport of tropical and subtropical water masses in three of the integrations, the spectral levels continually increase with decreasing frequency and do not show isolated peaks at low frequencies. The slope of the low-frequency spectrum (in a log–log plot) changes with increasing depth. It has values of about 0 near the surface, about −1 at intermediate depth, and about −2 at or near the bottom. The result indicates that the maximal memory timescale for deep-ocean mass transport is longer than a few centuries. The situation is different in the fourth integration, which has a different mean circulation pattern. In this case, the low-frequency spectrum is more or less flat in the tropical and subtropical oceans below 2000–3000 m, indicating weak low-frequency variations. The dominant spatial covariance structures describe an anomalous recirculation of intermediate water masses, which is confined to a large extent to each ocean basin. The spatial scale of the dominant modes is therefore smaller than that of the time-mean circulation.

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Michael Winton, Alistair Adcroft, Stephen M. Griffies, Robert W. Hallberg, Larry W. Horowitz, and Ronald J. Stouffer

Abstract

The influence of alternative ocean and atmosphere subcomponents on climate model simulation of transient sensitivities is examined by comparing three GFDL climate models used for phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). The base model ESM2M is closely related to GFDL’s CMIP3 climate model version 2.1 (CM2.1), and makes use of a depth coordinate ocean component. The second model, ESM2G, is identical to ESM2M but makes use of an isopycnal coordinate ocean model. The authors compare the impact of this “ocean swap” with an “atmosphere swap” that produces the GFDL Climate Model version 3 (CM3) by replacing the AM2 atmospheric component with AM3 while retaining a depth coordinate ocean model. The atmosphere swap is found to have much larger influence on sensitivities of global surface temperature and Northern Hemisphere sea ice cover. The atmosphere swap also introduces a multidecadal response time scale through its indirect influence on heat uptake. Despite significant differences in their interior ocean mean states, the ESM2M and ESM2G simulations of these metrics of climate change are very similar, except for an enhanced high-latitude salinity response accompanied by temporarily advancing sea ice in ESM2G. In the ESM2G historical simulation this behavior results in the establishment of a strong halocline in the subpolar North Atlantic during the early twentieth century and an associated cooling, which are counter to observations in that region. The Atlantic meridional overturning declines comparably in all three models.

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Robert Hallberg, Alistair Adcroft, John P. Dunne, John P. Krasting, and Ronald J. Stouffer

Abstract

Two comprehensive Earth system models (ESMs), identical apart from their oceanic components, are used to estimate the uncertainty in projections of twenty-first-century sea level rise due to representational choices in ocean physical formulation. Most prominent among the formulation differences is that one (ESM2M) uses a traditional z-coordinate ocean model, while the other (ESM2G) uses an isopycnal-coordinate ocean. As evidence of model fidelity, differences in twentieth-century global-mean steric sea level rise are not statistically significant between either model and observed trends. However, differences between the two models’ twenty-first-century projections are systematic and both statistically and climatically significant. By 2100, ESM2M exhibits 18% higher global steric sea level rise than ESM2G for all four radiative forcing scenarios (28–49 mm higher), despite having similar changes between the models in the near-surface ocean for several scenarios. These differences arise primarily from the vertical extent over which heat is taken up and the total heat uptake by the models (9% more in ESM2M than ESM2G). The fact that the spun-up control state of ESM2M is warmer than ESM2G also contributes by giving thermal expansion coefficients that are about 7% larger in ESM2M than ESM2G. The differences between these models provide a direct estimate of the sensitivity of twenty-first-century sea level rise to ocean model formulation, and, given the span of these models across the observed volume of the ventilated thermocline, may also approximate the sensitivities expected from uncertainties in the characterization of interior ocean physical processes.

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