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Maria A. A. Rugenstein, Michael Winton, Ronald J. Stouffer, Stephen M. Griffies, and Robert Hallberg

Abstract

Climate models simulate a wide range of climate changes at high northern latitudes in response to increased CO2. They also have substantial disagreement on projected changes of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). Here, two pairs of closely related climate models are used, with each containing members with large and small AMOC declines to explore the influence of AMOC decline on the high-latitude response to increased CO2. The models with larger AMOC decline have less high-latitude warming and sea ice decline than their small AMOC decline counterpart. By examining differences in the perturbation heat budget of the 40°–90°N region, it is shown that AMOC decline diminishes the warming by weakening poleward ocean heat transport and increasing the ocean heat uptake. The cooling impact of this AMOC-forced surface heat flux perturbation difference is enhanced by shortwave feedback and diminished by longwave feedback and atmospheric heat transport differences. The magnitude of the AMOC decline within model pairs is positively related to the magnitudes of control climate AMOC and Labrador and Nordic Seas convection. Because the 40°–90°N region accounts for up to 40% of the simulated global ocean heat uptake over 100 yr, the process described here influences the global heat uptake efficiency.

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Zachary Naiman, Paul J. Goodman, John P. Krasting, Sergey L. Malyshev, Joellen L. Russell, Ronald J. Stouffer, and Andrew T. Wittenberg

Abstract

Two state-of-the-art Earth system models (ESMs) were used in an idealized experiment to explore the role of mountains in shaping Earth’s climate system. Similar to previous studies, removing mountains from both ESMs results in the winds becoming more zonal and weaker Indian and Asian monsoon circulations. However, there are also broad changes to the Walker circulation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Without orography, convection moves across the entire equatorial Indo-Pacific basin on interannual time scales. ENSO has a stronger amplitude, lower frequency, and increased regularity. A wider equatorial wind zone and changes to equatorial wind stress curl result in a colder cold tongue and a steeper equatorial thermocline across the Pacific basin during La Niña years. Anomalies associated with ENSO warm events are larger without mountains and have greater impact on the mean tropical climate than when mountains are present. Without mountains, the centennial-mean Pacific Walker circulation weakens in both models by approximately 45%, but the strength of the mean Hadley circulation changes by less than 2%. Changes in the Walker circulation in these experiments can be explained by the large spatial excursions of atmospheric deep convection on interannual time scales. These results suggest that mountains are an important control on the large-scale tropical circulation, impacting ENSO dynamics and the Walker circulation, but have little impact on the strength of the Hadley circulation.

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Gerald A. Meehl, Curt Covey, Thomas Delworth, Mojib Latif, Bryant McAvaney, John F. B. Mitchell, Ronald J. Stouffer, and Karl E. Taylor

A coordinated set of global coupled climate model [atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (AOGCM)] experiments for twentieth- and twenty-first-century climate, as well as several climate change commitment and other experiments, was run by 16 modeling groups from 11 countries with 23 models for assessment in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Since the assessment was completed, output from another model has been added to the dataset, so the participation is now 17 groups from 12 countries with 24 models. This effort, as well as the subsequent analysis phase, was organized by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Working Group on Coupled Models (WGCM) Climate Simulation Panel, and constitutes the third phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3). The dataset is called the WCRP CMIP3 multimodel dataset, and represents the largest and most comprehensive international global coupled climate model experiment and multimodel analysis effort ever attempted. As of March 2007, the Program for Climate Model Diagnostics and Intercomparison (PCMDI) has collected, archived, and served roughly 32 TB of model data. With oversight from the panel, the multimodel data were made openly available from PCMDI for analysis and academic applications. Over 171 TB of data had been downloaded among the more than 1000 registered users to date. Over 200 journal articles, based in part on the dataset, have been published AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY so far. Though initially aimed at the IPCC AR4, this unique and valuable resource will continue to be maintained for at least the next several years. Never before has such an extensive set of climate model simulations been made available to the international climate science community for study. The ready access to the multimodel dataset opens up these types of model analyses to researchers, including students, who previously could not obtain state-of-the-art climate model output, and thus represents a new era in climate change research. As a direct consequence, these ongoing studies are increasing the body of knowledge regarding our understanding of how the climate system currently works, and how it may change in the future.

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John P. Krasting, Ronald J. Stouffer, Stephen M. Griffies, Robert W. Hallberg, Sergey L. Malyshev, Bonita L. Samuels, and Lori T. Sentman

Abstract

Oceanic heat uptake (OHU) is a significant source of uncertainty in both the transient and equilibrium responses to increasing the planetary radiative forcing. OHU differs among climate models and is related in part to their representation of vertical and lateral mixing. This study examines the role of ocean model formulation—specifically the choice of the vertical coordinate and the strength of the background diapycnal diffusivity K d—in the millennial-scale near-equilibrium climate response to a quadrupling of atmospheric CO2. Using two fully coupled Earth system models (ESMs) with nearly identical atmosphere, land, sea ice, and biogeochemical components, it is possible to independently configure their ocean model components with different formulations and produce similar near-equilibrium climate responses. The SST responses are similar between the two models (r 2 = 0.75, global average ~4.3°C) despite their initial preindustrial climate mean states differing by 0.4°C globally. The surface and interior responses of temperature and salinity are also similar between the two models. However, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) responses are different between the two models, and the associated differences in ventilation and deep-water formation have an impact on the accumulation of dissolved inorganic carbon in the ocean interior. A parameter sensitivity analysis demonstrates that increasing the amount of K d produces very different near-equilibrium climate responses within a given model. These results suggest that the impact of the ocean vertical coordinate on the climate response is small relative to the representation of subgrid-scale mixing.

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P. C. D. Milly, Sergey L. Malyshev, Elena Shevliakova, Krista A. Dunne, Kirsten L. Findell, Tom Gleeson, Zhi Liang, Peter Phillipps, Ronald J. Stouffer, and Sean Swenson

Abstract

LM3 is a new model of terrestrial water, energy, and carbon, intended for use in global hydrologic analyses and as a component of earth-system and physical-climate models. It is designed to improve upon the performance and to extend the scope of the predecessor Land Dynamics (LaD) and LM3V models by better quantifying the physical controls of climate and biogeochemistry and by relating more directly to components of the global water system that touch human concerns. LM3 includes multilayer representations of temperature, liquid water content, and ice content of both snowpack and macroporous soil–bedrock; topography-based description of saturated area and groundwater discharge; and transport of runoff to the ocean via a global river and lake network. Sensible heat transport by water mass is accounted throughout for a complete energy balance. Carbon and vegetation dynamics and biophysics are represented as in LM3V. In numerical experiments, LM3 avoids some of the limitations of the LaD model and provides qualitatively (though not always quantitatively) reasonable estimates, from a global perspective, of observed spatial and/or temporal variations of vegetation density, albedo, streamflow, water-table depth, permafrost, and lake levels. Amplitude and phase of annual cycle of total water storage are simulated well. Realism of modeled lake levels varies widely. The water table tends to be consistently too shallow in humid regions. Biophysical properties have an artificial stepwise spatial structure, and equilibrium vegetation is sensitive to initial conditions. Explicit resolution of thick (>100 m) unsaturated zones and permafrost is possible, but only at the cost of long (≫300 yr) model spinup times.

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John P. Dunne, Jasmin G. John, Alistair J. Adcroft, Stephen M. Griffies, Robert W. Hallberg, Elena Shevliakova, Ronald J. Stouffer, William Cooke, Krista A. Dunne, Matthew J. Harrison, John P. Krasting, Sergey L. Malyshev, P. C. D. Milly, Peter J. Phillipps, Lori T. Sentman, Bonita L. Samuels, Michael J. Spelman, Michael Winton, Andrew T. Wittenberg, and Niki Zadeh

Abstract

The physical climate formulation and simulation characteristics of two new global coupled carbon–climate Earth System Models, ESM2M and ESM2G, are described. These models demonstrate similar climate fidelity as the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory’s previous Climate Model version 2.1 (CM2.1) while incorporating explicit and consistent carbon dynamics. The two models differ exclusively in the physical ocean component; ESM2M uses Modular Ocean Model version 4p1 with vertical pressure layers while ESM2G uses Generalized Ocean Layer Dynamics with a bulk mixed layer and interior isopycnal layers. Differences in the ocean mean state include the thermocline depth being relatively deep in ESM2M and relatively shallow in ESM2G compared to observations. The crucial role of ocean dynamics on climate variability is highlighted in El Niño–Southern Oscillation being overly strong in ESM2M and overly weak in ESM2G relative to observations. Thus, while ESM2G might better represent climate changes relating to total heat content variability given its lack of long-term drift, gyre circulation, and ventilation in the North Pacific, tropical Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, and depth structure in the overturning and abyssal flows, ESM2M might better represent climate changes relating to surface circulation given its superior surface temperature, salinity, and height patterns, tropical Pacific circulation and variability, and Southern Ocean dynamics. The overall assessment is that neither model is fundamentally superior to the other, and that both models achieve sufficient fidelity to allow meaningful climate and earth system modeling applications. This affords the ability to assess the role of ocean configuration on earth system interactions in the context of two state-of-the-art coupled carbon–climate models.

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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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John P. Dunne, Jasmin G. John, Elena Shevliakova, Ronald J. Stouffer, John P. Krasting, Sergey L. Malyshev, P. C. D. Milly, Lori T. Sentman, Alistair J. Adcroft, William Cooke, Krista A. Dunne, Stephen M. Griffies, Robert W. Hallberg, Matthew J. Harrison, Hiram Levy, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Peter J. Phillips, and Niki Zadeh

Abstract

The authors describe carbon system formulation and simulation characteristics of two new global coupled carbon–climate Earth System Models (ESM), ESM2M and ESM2G. These models demonstrate good climate fidelity as described in part I of this study while incorporating explicit and consistent carbon dynamics. The two models differ almost exclusively in the physical ocean component; ESM2M uses the Modular Ocean Model version 4.1 with vertical pressure layers, whereas ESM2G uses generalized ocean layer dynamics with a bulk mixed layer and interior isopycnal layers. On land, both ESMs include a revised land model to simulate competitive vegetation distributions and functioning, including carbon cycling among vegetation, soil, and atmosphere. In the ocean, both models include new biogeochemical algorithms including phytoplankton functional group dynamics with flexible stoichiometry. Preindustrial simulations are spun up to give stable, realistic carbon cycle means and variability. Significant differences in simulation characteristics of these two models are described. Because of differences in oceanic ventilation rates, ESM2M has a stronger biological carbon pump but weaker northward implied atmospheric CO2 transport than ESM2G. The major advantages of ESM2G over ESM2M are improved representation of surface chlorophyll in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and thermocline nutrients and oxygen in the North Pacific. Improved tree mortality parameters in ESM2G produced more realistic carbon accumulation in vegetation pools. The major advantages of ESM2M over ESM2G are reduced nutrient and oxygen biases in the southern and tropical oceans.

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Decadal Prediction

Can It Be Skillful?

Gerald A. Meehl, Lisa Goddard, James Murphy, Ronald J. Stouffer, George Boer, Gokhan Danabasoglu, Keith Dixon, Marco A. Giorgetta, Arthur M. Greene, Ed Hawkins, Gabriele Hegerl, David Karoly, Noel Keenlyside, Masahide Kimoto, Ben Kirtman, Antonio Navarra, Roger Pulwarty, Doug Smith, Detlef Stammer, and Timothy Stockdale

A new field of study, “decadal prediction,” is emerging in climate science. Decadal prediction lies between seasonal/interannual forecasting and longer-term climate change projections, and focuses on time-evolving regional climate conditions over the next 10–30 yr. Numerous assessments of climate information user needs have identified this time scale as being important to infrastructure planners, water resource managers, and many others. It is central to the information portfolio required to adapt effectively to and through climatic changes. At least three factors influence time-evolving regional climate at the decadal time scale: 1) climate change commitment (further warming as the coupled climate system comes into adjustment with increases of greenhouse gases that have already occurred), 2) external forcing, particularly from future increases of greenhouse gases and recovery of the ozone hole, and 3) internally generated variability. Some decadal prediction skill has been demonstrated to arise from the first two of these factors, and there is evidence that initialized coupled climate models can capture mechanisms of internally generated decadal climate variations, thus increasing predictive skill globally and particularly regionally. Several methods have been proposed for initializing global coupled climate models for decadal predictions, all of which involve global time-evolving three-dimensional ocean data, including temperature and salinity. An experimental framework to address decadal predictability/prediction is described in this paper and has been incorporated into the coordinated Coupled Model Intercomparison Model, phase 5 (CMIP5) experiments, some of which will be assessed for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). These experiments will likely guide work in this emerging field over the next 5 yr.

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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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