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O. Geoffroy, D. Saint-Martin, D. J. L. Olivié, A. Voldoire, G. Bellon, and S. Tytéca

Abstract

This is the first part of a series of two articles analyzing the global thermal properties of atmosphere–ocean coupled general circulation models (AOGCMs) within the framework of a two-layer energy-balance model (EBM). In this part, the general analytical solution of the system is given and two idealized climate change scenarios, one with a step forcing and one with a linear forcing, are discussed. These solutions give a didactic description of the contributions from the equilibrium response and of the fast and slow transient responses during a climate transition. Based on these analytical solutions, a simple and physically based procedure to calibrate the two-layer model parameters using an AOGCM step-forcing experiment is introduced. Using this procedure, the global thermal properties of 16 AOGCMs participating in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are determined. It is shown that, for a given AOGCM, the EBM tuned with only the abrupt 4×CO2 experiment is able to reproduce with a very good accuracy the temperature evolution in both a step-forcing and a linear-forcing experiment. The role of the upper-ocean and deep-ocean heat uptakes in the fast and slow responses is also discussed. One of the main weaknesses of the simple EBM discussed in this part is its ability to represent the evolution of the top-of-the-atmosphere radiative imbalance in the transient regime. This issue is addressed in Part II by taking into account the efficacy factor of deep-ocean heat uptake.

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O. Geoffroy, D. Saint-Martin, G. Bellon, A. Voldoire, D. J. L. Olivié, and S. Tytéca

Abstract

In this second part of a series of two articles analyzing the global thermal properties of atmosphere–ocean coupled general circulation models (AOGCMs) within the framework of a two-layer energy-balance model (EBM), the role of the efficacy of deep-ocean heat uptake is investigated. Taking into account such an efficacy factor is shown to amount to representing the effect of deep-ocean heat uptake on the local strength of the radiative feedback in the transient regime. It involves an additional term in the formulation of the radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere (TOA), which explains the nonlinearity between radiative imbalance and the mean surface temperature observed in some AOGCMs. An analytical solution of this system is given and this simple linear EBM is calibrated for the set of 16 AOGCMs of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) studied in Part I. It is shown that both the net radiative fluxes at TOA and the global surface temperature transient response are well represented by the simple EBM over the available period of simulations. Differences between this two-layer EBM and the previous version without an efficacy factor are analyzed and relationships between parameters are discussed. The simple model calibration applied to AOGCMs constitutes a new method for estimating their respective equilibrium climate sensitivity and adjusted radiative forcing amplitude from short-term step-forcing simulations and more generally a method to compute their global thermal properties.

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R. Alkama, B. Decharme, H. Douville, M. Becker, A. Cazenave, J. Sheffield, A. Voldoire, S. Tyteca, and P. Le Moigne

Abstract

In earth system models, the partitioning of precipitation among the variations of continental water storage, evapotranspiration, and freshwater runoff to the ocean has a major influence on the terrestrial water and energy budgets and thereby on simulated climate on a wide range of scales. The evaluation of continental hydrology is therefore a crucial task that requires offline simulations driven by realistic atmospheric forcing to avoid the systematic biases commonly found in global atmospheric models. Generally, this evaluation is done mainly by comparison with in situ river discharge data, which does not guarantee that the spatiotemporal distribution of water storage and evapotranspiration is correctly simulated. In this context, the Interactions between Soil, Biosphere, and Atmosphere–Total Runoff Integrating Pathways (ISBA-TRIP) continental hydrological system of the Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques is evaluated by using the additional constraint of terrestrial water storage (TWS) variations derived from three independent gravity field retrievals (datasets) from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). On the one hand, the results show that, in general, ISBA-TRIP captures the seasonal and the interannual variability in both TWS and discharges. GRACE provides an additional constraint on the simulated hydrology and consolidates the former evaluation only based on river discharge observations. On the other hand, results indicate that river storage variations represent a significant contribution to GRACE measurements. While this remark highlights the need to improve the TRIP river routing model for a more useful comparison with GRACE [Decharme et al. ( of the present study)], it also suggests that low-resolution gravimetry products do not necessarily represent a strong additional constraint for model evaluation, especially in downstream areas of large river basins where long-term discharge data are available.

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Nathalie de Noblet-Ducoudré, Juan-Pablo Boisier, Andy Pitman, G. B. Bonan, V. Brovkin, Faye Cruz, C. Delire, V. Gayler, B. J. J. M. van den Hurk, P. J. Lawrence, M. K. van der Molen, C. Müller, C. H. Reick, B. J. Strengers, and A. Voldoire

Abstract

The project Land-Use and Climate, Identification of Robust Impacts (LUCID) was conceived to address the robustness of biogeophysical impacts of historical land use–land cover change (LULCC). LUCID used seven atmosphere–land models with a common experimental design to explore those impacts of LULCC that are robust and consistent across the climate models. The biogeophysical impacts of LULCC were also compared to the impact of elevated greenhouse gases and resulting changes in sea surface temperatures and sea ice extent (CO2SST). Focusing the analysis on Eurasia and North America, this study shows that for a number of variables LULCC has an impact of similar magnitude but of an opposite sign, to increased greenhouse gases and warmer oceans. However, the variability among the individual models’ response to LULCC is larger than that found from the increase in CO2SST. The results of the study show that although the dispersion among the models’ response to LULCC is large, there are a number of robust common features shared by all models: the amount of available energy used for turbulent fluxes is consistent between the models and the changes in response to LULCC depend almost linearly on the amount of trees removed. However, less encouraging is the conclusion that there is no consistency among the various models regarding how LULCC affects the partitioning of available energy between latent and sensible heat fluxes at a specific time. The results therefore highlight the urgent need to evaluate land surface models more thoroughly, particularly how they respond to a perturbation in addition to how they simulate an observed average state.

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