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Y.-L. Chang and L.-Y. Oey

Abstract

Tide gauge and satellite data reveal an interannual oscillation of the ocean’s thermoclines east of the Philippines and Taiwan, forced by a corresponding oscillation in the wind stress curl. This so-called Philippines–Taiwan Oscillation (PTO) is shown to control the interannual variability of the circulation of the subtropical and tropical western North Pacific. The PTO shares some characteristics of known Pacific indices, for example, Niño-3.4. However, unlike PTO, these other indices explain only portions of the western North Pacific circulation. The reason is because of the nonlinear nature of the forcing in which mesoscale (ocean) eddies play a crucial role. In years of positive PTO, the thermocline east of the Philippines rises while east of Taiwan it deepens. This results in a northward shift of the North Equatorial Current (NEC), increased vertical shear of the Subtropical Countercurrent (STCC)/NEC system, increased eddy activity dominated by warm eddies in the STCC, increased Kuroshio transport off the northeastern coast of Taiwan into the East China Sea, increased westward inflow through Luzon Strait into the South China Sea, and cyclonic circulation and low sea surface height anomalies in the South China Sea. The reverse applies in years of negative PTO.

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S. Zhang, Y.-S. Chang, X. Yang, and A. Rosati

Abstract

Given a biased coupled model and the atmospheric and oceanic observing system, maintaining a balanced and coherent climate estimation is of critical importance for producing accurate climate analysis and prediction initialization. However, because of limitations of the observing system (e.g., most of the oceanic measurements are only available for the upper ocean), directly evaluating climate estimation with real observations is difficult. With two coupled models that are biased with respect to each other, a biased twin experiment is designed to simulate the problem. To do that, the atmospheric and oceanic observations drawn from one model based on the modern climate observing system are assimilated into the other. The model that produces observations serves as the truth and the degree by which an assimilation recovers the truth steadily and coherently is an assessment of the impact of the data constraint scheme on climate estimation. Given the assimilation model bias of warmer atmosphere and colder ocean, where the atmospheric-only (oceanic only) data constraint produces an overcooling (overwarming) ocean through the atmosphere–ocean interaction, the constraints with both atmospheric and oceanic data create a balanced and coherent ocean estimate as the observational model. Moreover, the consistent atmosphere–ocean constraint produces the most accurate estimate for North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), whereas NADW is too strong (weak) if the system is only constrained by atmospheric (oceanic) data. These twin experiment results provide insights that consistent data constraints of multiple components are very important when a coupled model is combined with the climate observing system for climate estimation and prediction initialization.

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John C. H. Chiang, C.-Y. Chang, and M. F. Wehner

Abstract

Multidecadal and longer changes to the Atlantic interhemispheric sea surface temperature gradient (AITG) in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) historical simulations are investigated. Observations show a secular trend to this gradient over most of the twentieth century, with the southern lobe warming faster relative to its northern counterpart. A previous study of phase 3 of the CMIP (CMIP3) suggests that this trend is partially forced by anthropogenic sulfate aerosols. This analysis collectively confirms the partially forced trend for the CMIP5 and by anthropogenic aerosols. Like the CMIP3, the CMIP5 also simulates a reversal in the AITG trend in the late 1970s, which was attributed to a leveling off of the anthropogenic aerosol influence and increased influence of greenhouse gases in the late twentieth century. Two (of 25) CMIP5 models, however, systematically simulate a twentieth-century trend opposite to observed, leading to some uncertainty regarding the forced nature of the AITG trend. The observed AITG also exhibits a pronounced multidecadal modulation on top of the trend, associated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO). Motivated by a recent suggestion that the AMO is a forced response to aerosols, the causes of this multidecadal behavior were also examined. A few of the CMIP5 models analyzed do produce multidecadal AITG variations that are correlated to the observed AMO-like variation, but only one, the Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model, version 2 (HadGEM2), systematically simulates AMO-like behavior with both the requisite amplitude and phase. The CMIP5 simulations thus point to a robust aerosol influence on the historical AITG trend but not to the AMO-like multidecadal behavior.

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J. C. H. Chiang, Y. Fang, and P. Chang

Abstract

The authors argue that a reduction to the stochastic forcing of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) wrought by Pacific-wide climate changes in response to mid-Holocene (6000 BP) orbital forcing is a viable hypothesis for the observed reduction of ENSO activity during that time. This conclusion is based on comprehensive analysis of an intermediate coupled model that achieves significant reduction to ENSO variance in response to mid-Holocene orbital forcing. The model’s excellent simulation of the tropical Pacific interannual variability lends credibility to the results.

Idealized simulations demonstrate that the mid-Holocene influence is communicated to the tropical Pacific largely via climate changes outside of the tropical Pacific, rather than from insolation changes directly on the tropical Pacific. This is particularly true for changes to the ENSO, but also with changes to the cold tongue annual cycle. Previously proposed mechanisms for teleconnected mid-Holocene ENSO changes, including forcing of ENSO by a strengthened Asian summer monsoon and an increase in the annual cycle forcing on the tropical Pacific leading to a reduction in ENSO activity by frequency entrainment, do not appear to occur in these simulations. Rather, the authors show that the modeled mid-Holocene climate exhibits a pronounced reduction in Pacific meridional mode activity that has been recently shown to be a forcing on ENSO, though the reasons for this reduction are still to be explained.

The contrasting nature of the results compared to previous studies highlights the effect of the prevailing ENSO paradigm on this problem. By showing that an externally forced ENSO model is equally capable of explaining mid-Holocene ENSO reduction as its nonlinear, weakly chaotic counterpart, it is demonstrated that the mid-Holocene ENSO data point cannot yet discriminate between these two paradigms of ENSO.

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C.-Y. Chang, J. C. H. Chiang, M. F. Wehner, A. R. Friedman, and R. Ruedy

Abstract

The tropical Atlantic interhemispheric gradient in sea surface temperature significantly influences the rainfall climate of the tropical Atlantic sector, including droughts over West Africa and Northeast Brazil. This gradient exhibits a secular trend from the beginning of the twentieth century until the 1980s, with stronger warming in the south relative to the north. This trend behavior is on top of a multidecadal variation associated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. A similar long-term forced trend is found in a multimodel ensemble of forced twentieth-century climate simulations. Through examining the distribution of the trend slopes in the multimodel twentieth-century and preindustrial models, the authors conclude that the observed trend in the gradient is unlikely to arise purely from natural variations; this study suggests that at least half the observed trend is a forced response to twentieth-century climate forcings. Further analysis using twentieth-century single-forcing runs indicates that sulfate aerosol forcing is the predominant cause of the multimodel trend. The authors conclude that anthropogenic sulfate aerosol emissions, originating predominantly from the Northern Hemisphere, may have significantly altered the tropical Atlantic rainfall climate over the twentieth century.

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Y. Chang, S. D. Schubert, R. D. Koster, A. M. Molod, and H. Wang

Abstract

We revisit the bias correction problem in current climate models, taking advantage of state-of-the-art atmospheric reanalysis data and new data assimilation tools that simplify the estimation of short-term (6 hourly) atmospheric tendency errors. The focus is on the extent to which correcting biases in atmospheric tendencies improves the model’s climatology, variability, and ultimately forecast skill at subseasonal and seasonal time scales. Results are presented for the NASA GMAO GEOS model in both uncoupled (atmosphere only) and coupled (atmosphere–ocean) modes. For the uncoupled model, the focus is on correcting a stunted North Pacific jet and a dry bias over the central United States during boreal summer—long-standing errors that are indeed common to many current AGCMs. The results show that the tendency bias correction (TBC) eliminates the jet bias and substantially increases the precipitation over the Great Plains. These changes are accompanied by much improved (increased) storm-track activity throughout the northern midlatitudes. For the coupled model, the atmospheric TBCs produce substantial improvements in the simulated mean climate and its variability, including a much reduced SST warm bias, more realistic ENSO-related SST variability and teleconnections, and much improved subtropical jets and related submonthly transient wave activity. Despite these improvements, the improvement in subseasonal and seasonal forecast skill over North America is only modest at best. The reasons for this, which are presumably relevant to any forecast system, involve the competing influences of predictability loss with time and the time it takes for climate drift to first have a significant impact on forecast skill.

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S. D. Schubert, Y. Chang, H. Wang, R. D. Koster, and A. M. Molod

Abstract

We outline a framework for identifying the geographical sources of biases in climate models. By forcing the model with time-averaged short-term analysis increments [tendency bias corrections (TBCs)] over well-defined regions, we can quantify how the associated reduced tendency errors in these regions manifest themselves both locally and remotely through large-scale teleconnections. Companion experiments in which the model is fully corrected [constrained to remain close to the analysis at each time step, termed replay (RPL)] in the various regions provide an upper bound to the local and remote TBC impacts. An example is given based on MERRA-2 and the NASA/GMAO GEOS AGCM used to generate MERRA-2. The results highlight the ability of the approach to isolate the geographical sources of some of the long-standing boreal summer biases of the GEOS model, including a stunted North Pacific summer jet, a dry bias in the U.S. Great Plains, and a warm bias over most of the Northern Hemisphere land. In particular, we show that the TBC over a region that encompasses Tibet has by far the largest impact (compared with all other regions) on the NH summer jets and related variables, leading to significant improvements in the simulation of North American temperature and, to a lesser degree, precipitation. It is further shown that the results of the regional TBC experiments are for the most part linear in the summer hemisphere, allowing a robust interpretation of the results.

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Rym Msadek, T. L. Delworth, A. Rosati, W. Anderson, G. Vecchi, Y.-S. Chang, K. Dixon, R. G. Gudgel, W. Stern, A. Wittenberg, X. Yang, F. Zeng, R. Zhang, and S. Zhang

Abstract

Decadal prediction experiments were conducted as part of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) using the GFDL Climate Model, version 2.1 (CM2.1) forecast system. The abrupt warming of the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre (SPG) that was observed in the mid-1990s is considered as a case study to evaluate forecast capabilities and better understand the reasons for the observed changes. Initializing the CM2.1 coupled system produces high skill in retrospectively predicting the mid-1990s shift, which is not captured by the uninitialized forecasts. All the hindcasts initialized in the early 1990s show a warming of the SPG; however, only the ensemble-mean hindcasts initialized in 1995 and 1996 are able to reproduce the observed abrupt warming and the associated decrease and contraction of the SPG. Examination of the physical mechanisms responsible for the successful retrospective predictions indicates that initializing the ocean is key to predicting the mid-1990s warming. The successful initialized forecasts show an increased Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and North Atlantic Current transport, which drive an increased advection of warm saline subtropical waters northward, leading to a westward shift of the subpolar front and, subsequently, a warming and spindown of the SPG. Significant seasonal climate impacts are predicted as the SPG warms, including a reduced sea ice concentration over the Arctic, an enhanced warming over the central United States during summer and fall, and a northward shift of the mean ITCZ. These climate anomalies are similar to those observed during a warm phase of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, which is encouraging for future predictions of North Atlantic climate.

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T. H. Chen, A. Henderson-Sellers, P. C. D. Milly, A. J. Pitman, A. C. M. Beljaars, J. Polcher, F. Abramopoulos, A. Boone, S. Chang, F. Chen, Y. Dai, C. E. Desborough, R. E. Dickinson, L. Dümenil, M. Ek, J. R. Garratt, N. Gedney, Y. M. Gusev, J. Kim, R. Koster, E. A. Kowalczyk, K. Laval, J. Lean, D. Lettenmaier, X. Liang, J.-F. Mahfouf, H.-T. Mengelkamp, K. Mitchell, O. N. Nasonova, J. Noilhan, A. Robock, C. Rosenzweig, J. Schaake, C. A. Schlosser, J.-P. Schulz, Y. Shao, A. B. Shmakin, D. L. Verseghy, P. Wetzel, E. F. Wood, Y. Xue, Z.-L. Yang, and Q. Zeng

Abstract

In the Project for Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes phase 2a experiment, meteorological data for the year 1987 from Cabauw, the Netherlands, were used as inputs to 23 land-surface flux schemes designed for use in climate and weather models. Schemes were evaluated by comparing their outputs with long-term measurements of surface sensible heat fluxes into the atmosphere and the ground, and of upward longwave radiation and total net radiative fluxes, and also comparing them with latent heat fluxes derived from a surface energy balance. Tuning of schemes by use of the observed flux data was not permitted. On an annual basis, the predicted surface radiative temperature exhibits a range of 2 K across schemes, consistent with the range of about 10 W m−2 in predicted surface net radiation. Most modeled values of monthly net radiation differ from the observations by less than the estimated maximum monthly observational error (±10 W m−2). However, modeled radiative surface temperature appears to have a systematic positive bias in most schemes; this might be explained by an error in assumed emissivity and by models’ neglect of canopy thermal heterogeneity. Annual means of sensible and latent heat fluxes, into which net radiation is partitioned, have ranges across schemes of30 W m−2 and 25 W m−2, respectively. Annual totals of evapotranspiration and runoff, into which the precipitation is partitioned, both have ranges of 315 mm. These ranges in annual heat and water fluxes were approximately halved upon exclusion of the three schemes that have no stomatal resistance under non-water-stressed conditions. Many schemes tend to underestimate latent heat flux and overestimate sensible heat flux in summer, with a reverse tendency in winter. For six schemes, root-mean-square deviations of predictions from monthly observations are less than the estimated upper bounds on observation errors (5 W m−2 for sensible heat flux and 10 W m−2 for latent heat flux). Actual runoff at the site is believed to be dominated by vertical drainage to groundwater, but several schemes produced significant amounts of runoff as overland flow or interflow. There is a range across schemes of 184 mm (40% of total pore volume) in the simulated annual mean root-zone soil moisture. Unfortunately, no measurements of soil moisture were available for model evaluation. A theoretical analysis suggested that differences in boundary conditions used in various schemes are not sufficient to explain the large variance in soil moisture. However, many of the extreme values of soil moisture could be explained in terms of the particulars of experimental setup or excessive evapotranspiration.

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