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Karl Stein, Niklas Schneider, Axel Timmermann, and Fei-Fei Jin


A simple model of ENSO is developed to examine the effects of the seasonally varying background state of the equatorial Pacific on the seasonal synchronization of ENSO event peaks. The model is based on the stochastically forced recharge oscillator, extended to include periodic variations of the two main model parameters, which represent ENSO’s growth rate and angular frequency. Idealized experiments show that the seasonal cycle of the growth rate parameter sets the seasonal cycle of ENSO variance; the inclusion of the time dependence of the angular frequency parameter has a negligible effect. Event peaks occur toward the end of the season with the most unstable growth rate.

Realistic values of the parameters are estimated from a linearized upper-ocean heat budget with output from a high-resolution general circulation model hindcast. Analysis of the hindcast output suggests that the damping by the mean flow field dominates the seasonal cycle of ENSO’s growth rate and, thereby, seasonal ENSO variance. The combination of advective, Ekman pumping, and thermocline feedbacks plays a secondary role and acts to enhance the seasonal cycle of the ENSO growth rate.

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Karl Stein, Axel Timmermann, Niklas Schneider, Fei-Fei Jin, and Malte F. Stuecker


One of the key characteristics of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is its synchronization to the annual cycle, which manifests in the tendency of ENSO events to peak during boreal winter. Current theory offers two possible mechanisms to account the for ENSO synchronization: frequency locking of ENSO to periodic forcing by the annual cycle, or the effect of the seasonally varying background state of the equatorial Pacific on ENSO’s coupled stability. Using a parametric recharge oscillator (PRO) model of ENSO, the authors test which of these scenarios provides a better explanation of the observed ENSO synchronization.

Analytical solutions of the PRO model show that the annual modulation of the growth rate parameter results directly in ENSO’s seasonal variance, amplitude modulation, and 2:1 phase synchronization to the annual cycle. The solutions are shown to be applicable to the long-term behavior of the damped model excited by stochastic noise, which produces synchronization characteristics that agree with the observations and can account for the variety of ENSO synchronization behavior in state-of-the-art coupled general circulation models. The model also predicts spectral peaks at “combination tones” between ENSO and the annual cycle that exist in the observations and many coupled models. In contrast, the nonlinear frequency entrainment scenario predicts the existence of a spectral peak at the biennial frequency corresponding to the observed 2:1 phase synchronization. Such a peak does not exist in the observed ENSO spectrum. Hence, it can be concluded that the seasonal modulation of the coupled stability is responsible for the synchronization of ENSO events to the annual cycle.

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Clemens Simmer, Insa Thiele-Eich, Matthieu Masbou, Wulf Amelung, Heye Bogena, Susanne Crewell, Bernd Diekkrüger, Frank Ewert, Harrie-Jan Hendricks Franssen, Johan Alexander Huisman, Andreas Kemna, Norbert Klitzsch, Stefan Kollet, Matthias Langensiepen, Ulrich Löhnert, A. S. M. Mostaquimur Rahman, Uwe Rascher, Karl Schneider, Jan Schween, Yaping Shao, Prabhakar Shrestha, Maik Stiebler, Mauro Sulis, Jan Vanderborght, Harry Vereecken, Jan van der Kruk, Guido Waldhoff, and Tanja Zerenner


Most activities of humankind take place in the transition zone between four compartments of the terrestrial system: the unconfined aquifer, including the unsaturated zone; surface water; vegetation; and atmosphere. The mass, momentum, and heat energy fluxes between these compartments drive their mutual state evolution. Improved understanding of the processes that drive these fluxes is important for climate projections, weather prediction, flood forecasting, water and soil resources management, agriculture, and water quality control. The different transport mechanisms and flow rates within the compartments result in complex patterns on different temporal and spatial scales that make predictions of the terrestrial system challenging for scientists and policy makers. The Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 32 (TR32) was formed in 2007 to integrate monitoring with modeling and data assimilation in order to develop a holistic view of the terrestrial system. TR32 is a long-term research program funded by the German national science foundation Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), in order to focus and integrate research activities of several universities on an emerging scientific topic of high societal relevance. Aiming to bridge the gap between microscale soil pores and catchment-scale atmospheric variables, TR32 unites research groups from the German universities of Aachen, Bonn, and Cologne, and from the environmental and geoscience departments of Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH. Here, we report about recent achievements in monitoring and modeling of the terrestrial system, including the development of new observation techniques for the subsurface, the establishment of cross-scale, multicompartment modeling platforms from the pore to the catchment scale, and their use to investigate the propagation of patterns in the state and structure of the subsurface to the atmospheric boundary layer.

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Maurice Blackmon, Byron Boville, Frank Bryan, Robert Dickinson, Peter Gent, Jeffrey Kiehl, Richard Moritz, David Randall, Jagadish Shukla, Susan Solomon, Gordon Bonan, Scott Doney, Inez Fung, James Hack, Elizabeth Hunke, James Hurrell, John Kutzbach, Jerry Meehl, Bette Otto-Bliesner, R. Saravanan, Edwin K. Schneider, Lisa Sloan, Michael Spall, Karl Taylor, Joseph Tribbia, and Warren Washington

The Community Climate System Model (CCSM) has been created to represent the principal components of the climate system and their interactions. Development and applications of the model are carried out by the U.S. climate research community, thus taking advantage of both wide intellectual participation and computing capabilities beyond those available to most individual U.S. institutions. This article outlines the history of the CCSM, its current capabilities, and plans for its future development and applications, with the goal of providing a summary useful to present and future users.

The initial version of the CCSM included atmosphere and ocean general circulation models, a land surface model that was grafted onto the atmosphere model, a sea-ice model, and a “flux coupler” that facilitates information exchanges among the component models with their differing grids. This version of the model produced a successful 300-yr simulation of the current climate without artificial flux adjustments. The model was then used to perform a coupled simulation in which the atmospheric CO2 concentration increased by 1 % per year.

In this version of the coupled model, the ocean salinity and deep-ocean temperature slowly drifted away from observed values. A subsequent correction to the roughness length used for sea ice significantly reduced these errors. An updated version of the CCSM was used to perform three simulations of the twentieth century's climate, and several projections of the climate of the twenty-first century.

The CCSM's simulation of the tropical ocean circulation has been significantly improved by reducing the background vertical diffusivity and incorporating an anisotropic horizontal viscosity tensor. The meridional resolution of the ocean model was also refined near the equator. These changes have resulted in a greatly improved simulation of both the Pacific equatorial undercurrent and the surface countercurrents. The interannual variability of the sea surface temperature in the central and eastern tropical Pacific is also more realistic in simulations with the updated model.

Scientific challenges to be addressed with future versions of the CCSM include realistic simulation of the whole atmosphere, including the middle and upper atmosphere, as well as the troposphere; simulation of changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the incorporation of an integrated chemistry model; inclusion of global, prognostic biogeochemical components for land, ocean, and atmosphere; simulations of past climates, including times of extensive continental glaciation as well as times with little or no ice; studies of natural climate variability on seasonal-to-centennial timescales; and investigations of anthropogenic climate change. In order to make such studies possible, work is under way to improve all components of the model. Plans call for a new version of the CCSM to be released in 2002. Planned studies with the CCSM will require much more computer power than is currently available.

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