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Gokhan Danabasoglu, Susan C. Bates, Bruce P. Briegleb, Steven R. Jayne, Markus Jochum, William G. Large, Synte Peacock, and Steve G. Yeager


The ocean component of the Community Climate System Model version 4 (CCSM4) is described, and its solutions from the twentieth-century (20C) simulations are documented in comparison with observations and those of CCSM3. The improvements to the ocean model physical processes include new parameterizations to represent previously missing physics and modifications of existing parameterizations to incorporate recent new developments. In comparison with CCSM3, the new solutions show some significant improvements that can be attributed to these model changes. These include a better equatorial current structure, a sharper thermocline, and elimination of the cold bias of the equatorial cold tongue all in the Pacific Ocean; reduced sea surface temperature (SST) and salinity biases along the North Atlantic Current path; and much smaller potential temperature and salinity biases in the near-surface Pacific Ocean. Other improvements include a global-mean SST that is more consistent with the present-day observations due to a different spinup procedure from that used in CCSM3. Despite these improvements, many of the biases present in CCSM3 still exist in CCSM4. A major concern continues to be the substantial heat content loss in the ocean during the preindustrial control simulation from which the 20C cases start. This heat loss largely reflects the top of the atmospheric model heat loss rate in the coupled system, and it essentially determines the abyssal ocean potential temperature biases in the 20C simulations. There is also a deep salty bias in all basins. As a result of this latter bias in the deep North Atlantic, the parameterized overflow waters cannot penetrate much deeper than in CCSM3.

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Peter R. Gent, Gokhan Danabasoglu, Leo J. Donner, Marika M. Holland, Elizabeth C. Hunke, Steve R. Jayne, David M. Lawrence, Richard B. Neale, Philip J. Rasch, Mariana Vertenstein, Patrick H. Worley, Zong-Liang Yang, and Minghua Zhang


The fourth version of the Community Climate System Model (CCSM4) was recently completed and released to the climate community. This paper describes developments to all CCSM components, and documents fully coupled preindustrial control runs compared to the previous version, CCSM3. Using the standard atmosphere and land resolution of 1° results in the sea surface temperature biases in the major upwelling regions being comparable to the 1.4°-resolution CCSM3. Two changes to the deep convection scheme in the atmosphere component result in CCSM4 producing El Niño–Southern Oscillation variability with a much more realistic frequency distribution than in CCSM3, although the amplitude is too large compared to observations. These changes also improve the Madden–Julian oscillation and the frequency distribution of tropical precipitation. A new overflow parameterization in the ocean component leads to an improved simulation of the Gulf Stream path and the North Atlantic Ocean meridional overturning circulation. Changes to the CCSM4 land component lead to a much improved annual cycle of water storage, especially in the tropics. The CCSM4 sea ice component uses much more realistic albedos than CCSM3, and for several reasons the Arctic sea ice concentration is improved in CCSM4. An ensemble of twentieth-century simulations produces a good match to the observed September Arctic sea ice extent from 1979 to 2005. The CCSM4 ensemble mean increase in globally averaged surface temperature between 1850 and 2005 is larger than the observed increase by about 0.4°C. This is consistent with the fact that CCSM4 does not include a representation of the indirect effects of aerosols, although other factors may come into play. The CCSM4 still has significant biases, such as the mean precipitation distribution in the tropical Pacific Ocean, too much low cloud in the Arctic, and the latitudinal distributions of shortwave and longwave cloud forcings.

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