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Hui Wan, Marco A. Giorgetta, and Luca Bonaventura

Abstract

The idealized test case proposed by Held and Suarez is carried out with the atmospheric general circulation model ECHAM5 of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. The aim is to investigate the sensitivity of the solutions of the spectral dynamical core to spatial and temporal resolution, and to evaluate the numerical convergence of the solutions. Low-frequency fluctuations at time scales as long as thousands of days are found in ultralong integrations. To distinguish the effect of changed resolution from the fluctuations caused by the internal variability, the ensemble method is employed in experiments at resolutions ranging from T31 to T159 with 16 to 81 vertical levels. Significance of the differences between ensembles is assessed by three different statistical tests. Convergence property of the numerical solution is concisely summarized by a ratio index.

Results show that the simulated climate state in the Held–Suarez test is sensitive to spatial resolution. Increase of horizontal resolution leads to slight weakening and poleward shift of the westerly jets. Significant warming is detected in high latitudes, especially near the polar tropopause, while the tropical tropopause becomes cooler. The baroclinic wave activity intensifies considerably with increased horizontal resolution. Higher vertical resolution also leads to stronger eddy variances and cooling near the tropical tropopause, but equatorward shift of the westerly jets. The solutions show an indication of convergence at T85L31 resolution according to all the three statistical tests applied. Differences between integrations with various time steps are judged to be within the noise level induced by the inherent low-frequency variability.

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