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Jianjun Yin and Ronald J. Stouffer

Abstract

Two coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models developed at GFDL show differing stability properties of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project/Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project (CMIP/PMIP) coordinated “water-hosing” experiment. In contrast to the R30 model in which the “off” state of the THC is stable, it is unstable in the CM2.1. This discrepancy has also been found among other climate models. Here a comprehensive analysis is performed to investigate the causes for the differing behaviors of the THC. In agreement with previous work, it is found that the different stability of the THC is closely related to the simulation of a reversed thermohaline circulation (RTHC) and the atmospheric feedback. After the shutdown of the THC, the RTHC is well developed and stable in R30. It transports freshwater into the subtropical North Atlantic, preventing the recovery of the salinity and stabilizing the off mode of the THC. The flux adjustment is a large term in the water budget of the Atlantic Ocean. In contrast, the RTHC is weak and unstable in CM2.1. The atmospheric feedback associated with the southward shift of the Atlantic ITCZ is much more significant. The oceanic freshwater convergence into the subtropical North Atlantic cannot completely compensate for the evaporation, leading to the recovery of the THC in CM2.1. The rapid salinity recovery in the subtropical North Atlantic excites large-scale baroclinic eddies, which propagate northward into the Nordic seas and Irminger Sea. As the large-scale eddies reach the high latitudes of the North Atlantic, the oceanic deep convection restarts. The differences in the southward propagation of the salinity and temperature anomalies from the hosing perturbation region in R30 and CM2.1, and associated different development of a reversed meridional density gradient in the upper South Atlantic, are the cause of the differences in the behavior of the RTHC. The present study sheds light on important physical and dynamical processes in simulating the dynamical behavior of the THC.

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Jianjun Yin, Stephen M. Griffies, and Ronald J. Stouffer

Abstract

A set of state-of-the-science climate models are used to investigate global sea level rise (SLR) patterns induced by ocean dynamics in twenty-first-century climate projections. The identified robust features include bipolar and bihemisphere seesaws in the basin-wide SLR, dipole patterns in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, and a beltlike pattern in the Southern Ocean. The physical and dynamical mechanisms that cause these patterns are investigated in detail using version 2.1 of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) Coupled Model (CM2.1). Under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario, the steric sea level changes relative to the global mean (the local part) in different ocean basins are attributed to differential heating and salinity changes of various ocean layers and associated physical processes. As a result of these changes, water tends to move from the ocean interior to continental shelves. In the North Atlantic, sea level rises north of the Gulf Stream but falls to the south. The dipole pattern is induced by a weakening of the meridional overturning circulation. This weakening leads to a local steric SLR east of North America, which drives more waters toward the shelf, directly impacting northeastern North America. An opposite dipole occurs in the North Pacific. The dynamic SLR east of Japan is linked to a strong steric effect in the upper ocean and a poleward expansion of the subtropical gyre. In the Southern Ocean, the beltlike pattern is dominated by the baroclinic process during the twenty-first century, while the barotropic response of sea level to wind stress anomalies is significantly delayed.

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Jianjun Yin, Ronald J. Stouffer, Michael J. Spelman, and Stephen M. Griffies

Abstract

The unphysical virtual salt flux (VSF) formulation widely used in the ocean component of climate models has the potential to cause systematic and significant biases in modeling the climate system and projecting its future evolution. Here a freshwater flux (FWF) and a virtual salt flux version of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model version 2.1 (GFDL CM2.1) are used to evaluate and quantify the uncertainties induced by the VSF formulation. Both unforced and forced runs with the two model versions are performed and compared in detail. It is found that the differences between the two versions are generally small or statistically insignificant in the unforced control runs and in the runs with a small external forcing. In response to a large external forcing, however, some biases in the VSF version become significant, especially the responses of regional salinity and global sea level. However, many fundamental aspects of the responses differ only quantitatively between the two versions. An unexpected result is the distinctly different ENSO responses. Under a strong external freshwater forcing, the great enhancement of the ENSO variability simulated by the FWF version does not occur in the VSF version and is caused by the overexpansion of the top model layer. In summary, the principle assumption behind using virtual salt flux is not seriously violated and the VSF model has the ability to simulate the current climate and project near-term climate evolution. For some special studies such as a large hosing experiment, however, both the VSF formulation and the use of the FWF in the geopotential coordinate ocean model could have some deficiencies and one should be cautious to avoid them.

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Aixue Hu, Gerald A. Meehl, Weiqing Han, Jianjun Yin, Bingyi Wu, and Masahide Kimoto

Abstract

Evidence from observations indicates a net loss of global land-based ice and a rise of global sea level. Other than sea level rise, it is not clear how this loss of land-based ice could affect other aspects of global climate in the future. Here, the authors use the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3) to evaluate the potential influence of shrinking land-based ice on the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and surface climate in the next two centuries under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A1B scenario with prescribed rates of melting for the Greenland Ice Sheet, West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and mountain glaciers and ice caps. Results show that the AMOC, in general, is only sensitive to the freshwater discharge directly into the North Atlantic over the next two centuries. If the loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would not significantly increase from its current rate, it would not have much effect on the AMOC. The AMOC slows down further only when the surface freshwater input due to runoff from land-based ice melt becomes large enough to generate a net freshwater gain in the upper North Atlantic. This further-weakened AMOC does not cool the global mean climate, but it does cause less warming, especially in the northern high latitudes and, in particular, in Europe. The projected precipitation increase in North America in the standard run becomes a net reduction in the simulation that includes land ice runoff, but there are precipitation increases in west Australia in the simulations where the AMOC slows down because of the inclusion of land-based ice runoff.

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Jianjun Yin, Stephen M. Griffies, Michael Winton, Ming Zhao, and Laure Zanna

Abstract

Storm surge and coastal flooding caused by tropical cyclones (hurricanes) and extratropical cyclones (nor’easters) pose a threat to communities along the Atlantic coast of the United States. Climate change and sea level rise are altering the statistics of these extreme events in a rather complex fashion. Here we use a fully coupled global weather/climate modeling system (GFDL CM4) to study characteristics of extreme daily sea level (ESL) along the U.S. Atlantic coast and their response to global warming. We find that under natural weather processes, the Gulf of Mexico coast is most vulnerable to storm surge and related ESL. New Orleans is a striking hotspot with the highest surge efficiency in response to storm winds. Under a 1% per year atmospheric CO2 increase on centennial time scales, the anthropogenic signal in ESL is robust along the U.S. East Coast. It can emerge from the background variability as soon as in 20 years, or even before global sea level rise is taken into account. The regional dynamic sea level rise induced by the weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation facilitates this early emergence, especially during wintertime coastal flooding associated with nor’easters. Along the Gulf Coast, ESL is sensitive to the modification of hurricane characteristics under the CO2 forcing.

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James Done, Aixue Hu, E. Christa Farmer, Jianjun Yin, Susan Bates, Amy B. Frappier, Dariaj. Halkides, K. Halimeda Kilbourne, Ryan Sriver, and Jonathan Woodruff
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Stephen M. Griffies, Michael Winton, Whit G. Anderson, Rusty Benson, Thomas L. Delworth, Carolina O. Dufour, John P. Dunne, Paul Goddard, Adele K. Morrison, Anthony Rosati, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Jianjun Yin, and Rong Zhang

Abstract

The authors characterize impacts on heat in the ocean climate system from transient ocean mesoscale eddies. Their tool is a suite of centennial-scale 1990 radiatively forced numerical climate simulations from three GFDL coupled models comprising the Climate Model, version 2.0–Ocean (CM2-O), model suite. CM2-O models differ in their ocean resolution: CM2.6 uses a 0.1° ocean grid, CM2.5 uses an intermediate grid with 0.25° spacing, and CM2-1deg uses a nominal 1.0° grid.

Analysis of the ocean heat budget reveals that mesoscale eddies act to transport heat upward in a manner that partially compensates (or offsets) for the downward heat transport from the time-mean currents. Stronger vertical eddy heat transport in CM2.6 relative to CM2.5 accounts for the significantly smaller temperature drift in CM2.6. The mesoscale eddy parameterization used in CM2-1deg also imparts an upward heat transport, yet it differs systematically from that found in CM2.6. This analysis points to the fundamental role that ocean mesoscale features play in transient ocean heat uptake. In general, the more accurate simulation found in CM2.6 provides an argument for either including a rich representation of the ocean mesoscale in model simulations of the mean and transient climate or for employing parameterizations that faithfully reflect the role of eddies in both lateral and vertical heat transport.

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Stephen M. Griffies, Michael Winton, Leo J. Donner, Larry W. Horowitz, Stephanie M. Downes, Riccardo Farneti, Anand Gnanadesikan, William J. Hurlin, Hyun-Chul Lee, Zhi Liang, Jaime B. Palter, Bonita L. Samuels, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Bruce L. Wyman, Jianjun Yin, and Niki Zadeh

Abstract

This paper documents time mean simulation characteristics from the ocean and sea ice components in a new coupled climate model developed at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). The GFDL Climate Model version 3 (CM3) is formulated with effectively the same ocean and sea ice components as the earlier CM2.1 yet with extensive developments made to the atmosphere and land model components. Both CM2.1 and CM3 show stable mean climate indices, such as large-scale circulation and sea surface temperatures (SSTs). There are notable improvements in the CM3 climate simulation relative to CM2.1, including a modified SST bias pattern and reduced biases in the Arctic sea ice cover. The authors anticipate SST differences between CM2.1 and CM3 in lower latitudes through analysis of the atmospheric fluxes at the ocean surface in corresponding Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) simulations. In contrast, SST changes in the high latitudes are dominated by ocean and sea ice effects absent in AMIP simulations. The ocean interior simulation in CM3 is generally warmer than in CM2.1, which adversely impacts the interior biases.

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