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Mitchell Bushuk, Rym Msadek, Michael Winton, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Rich Gudgel, Anthony Rosati, and Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

Because of its persistence on seasonal time scales, Arctic sea ice thickness (SIT) is a potential source of predictability for summer sea ice extent (SIE). New satellite observations of SIT represent an opportunity to harness this potential predictability via improved thickness initialization in seasonal forecast systems. In this work, the evolution of Arctic sea ice volume anomalies is studied using a 700-yr control integration and a suite of initialized ensemble forecasts from a fully coupled global climate model. This analysis is focused on the September sea ice zone, as this is the region where thickness anomalies have the potential to impact the SIE minimum. The primary finding of this paper is that, in addition to a general decay with time, sea ice volume anomalies display a summer enhancement, in which anomalies tend to grow between the months of May and July. This summer enhancement is relatively symmetric for positive and negative volume anomalies and peaks in July regardless of the initial month. Analysis of the surface energy budget reveals that the summer volume anomaly enhancement is driven by a positive feedback between the SIT state and the surface albedo. The SIT state affects surface albedo through changes in the sea ice concentration field, melt-onset date, snow coverage, and ice thickness distribution, yielding an anomaly in the total absorbed shortwave radiation between May and August, which enhances the existing SIT anomaly. This phenomenon highlights the crucial importance of accurate SIT initialization and representation of ice–albedo feedback processes in seasonal forecast systems.

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Mitchell Bushuk, Xiaosong Yang, Michael Winton, Rym Msadek, Matthew Harrison, Anthony Rosati, and Rich Gudgel

ABSTRACT

Dynamical prediction systems have shown potential to meet the emerging need for seasonal forecasts of regional Arctic sea ice. Observationally constrained initial conditions are a key source of skill for these predictions, but the direct influence of different observation types on prediction skill has not yet been systematically investigated. In this work, we perform a hierarchy of observing system experiments with a coupled global data assimilation and prediction system to assess the value of different classes of oceanic and atmospheric observations for seasonal sea ice predictions in the Barents Sea. We find notable skill improvements due to the inclusion of both sea surface temperature (SST) satellite observations and subsurface conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) measurements. The SST data are found to provide the crucial source of interannual variability, whereas the CTD data primarily provide climatological and trend improvements. Analysis of the Barents Sea ocean heat budget suggests that ocean heat content anomalies in this region are driven by surface heat fluxes on seasonal time scales.

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Wei Zhang, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Hiroyuki Murakami, Thomas L. Delworth, Karen Paffendorf, Liwei Jia, Gabriele Villarini, Rich Gudgel, Fanrong Zeng, and Xiaosong Yang
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Gabriel A. Vecchi, Rym Msadek, Whit Anderson, You-Soon Chang, Thomas Delworth, Keith Dixon, Rich Gudgel, Anthony Rosati, Bill Stern, Gabriele Villarini, Andrew Wittenberg, Xiaosong Yang, Fanrong Zeng, Rong Zhang, and Shaoqing Zhang
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Xiaosong Yang, Anthony Rosati, Shaoqing Zhang, Thomas L. Delworth, Rich G. Gudgel, Rong Zhang, Gabriel Vecchi, Whit Anderson, You-Soon Chang, Timothy DelSole, Keith Dixon, Rym Msadek, William F. Stern, Andrew Wittenberg, and Fanrong Zeng

Abstract

The decadal predictability of sea surface temperature (SST) and 2-m air temperature (T2m) in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) decadal hindcasts, which are part of the Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project experiments, has been investigated using an average predictability time (APT) analysis. Comparison of retrospective forecasts initialized using the GFDL Ensemble Coupled Data Assimilation system with uninitialized historical forcing simulations using the same model allows identification of the internal multidecadal pattern (IMP) for SST and T2m. The IMP of SST is characterized by an interhemisphere dipole, with warm anomalies centered in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre region and North Pacific subpolar gyre region, and cold anomalies centered in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current region. The IMP of T2m is characterized by a general bipolar seesaw, with warm anomalies centered in Greenland and cold anomalies centered in Antarctica. The retrospective prediction skill of the initialized system, verified against independent observational datasets, indicates that the IMP of SST may be predictable up to 4 (10) yr lead time at 95% (90%) significance level, and the IMP of T2m may be predictable up to 2 (10) yr at the 95% (90%) significance level. The initialization of multidecadal variations of northward oceanic heat transport in the North Atlantic significantly improves the predictive skill of the IMP. The dominant roles of oceanic internal dynamics in decadal prediction are further elucidated by fixed-forcing experiments in which radiative forcing is returned abruptly to 1961 values. These results point toward the possibility of meaningful decadal climate outlooks using dynamical coupled models if they are appropriately initialized from a sustained climate observing system.

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Gabriel A. Vecchi, Rym Msadek, Whit Anderson, You-Soon Chang, Thomas Delworth, Keith Dixon, Rich Gudgel, Anthony Rosati, Bill Stern, Gabriele Villarini, Andrew Wittenberg, Xiasong Yang, Fanrong Zeng, Rong Zhang, and Shaoqing Zhang

Abstract

Retrospective predictions of multiyear North Atlantic Ocean hurricane frequency are explored by applying a hybrid statistical–dynamical forecast system to initialized and noninitialized multiyear forecasts of tropical Atlantic and tropical-mean sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from two global climate model forecast systems. By accounting for impacts of initialization and radiative forcing, retrospective predictions of 5- and 9-yr mean tropical Atlantic hurricane frequency show significant correlations relative to a null hypothesis of zero correlation. The retrospective correlations are increased in a two-model average forecast and by using a lagged-ensemble approach, with the two-model ensemble decadal forecasts of hurricane frequency over 1961–2011 yielding correlation coefficients that approach 0.9. These encouraging retrospective multiyear hurricane predictions, however, should be interpreted with care: although initialized forecasts have higher nominal skill than uninitialized ones, the relatively short record and large autocorrelation of the time series limits confidence in distinguishing between the skill caused by external forcing and that added by initialization. The nominal increase in correlation in the initialized forecasts relative to the uninitialized experiments is caused by improved representation of the multiyear tropical Atlantic SST anomalies. The skill in the initialized forecasts comes in large part from the persistence of a mid-1990s shift by the initialized forecasts, rather than from predicting its evolution. Predicting shifts like that observed in 1994/95 remains a critical issue for the success of multiyear forecasts of Atlantic hurricane frequency. The retrospective forecasts highlight the possibility that changes in observing system impact forecast performance.

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Gabriel A. Vecchi, Rym Msadek, Whit Anderson, You-Soon Chang, Thomas Delworth, Keith Dixon, Rich Gudgel, Anthony Rosati, Bill Stern, Gabriele Villarini, Andrew Wittenberg, Xiasong Yang, Fanrong Zeng, Rong Zhang, and Shaoqing Zhang
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Xiaosong Yang, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Rich G. Gudgel, Thomas L. Delworth, Shaoqing Zhang, Anthony Rosati, Liwei Jia, William F. Stern, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Sarah Kapnick, Rym Msadek, Seth D. Underwood, Fanrong Zeng, Whit Anderson, and Venkatramani Balaji

Abstract

The seasonal predictability of extratropical storm tracks in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory’s (GFDL)’s high-resolution climate model has been investigated using an average predictability time analysis. The leading predictable components of extratropical storm tracks are the ENSO-related spatial patterns for both boreal winter and summer, and the second predictable components are mostly due to changes in external radiative forcing and multidecadal oceanic variability. These two predictable components for both seasons show significant correlation skill for all leads from 0 to 9 months, while the skill of predicting the boreal winter storm track is consistently higher than that of the austral winter. The predictable components of extratropical storm tracks are dynamically consistent with the predictable components of the upper troposphere jet flow for both seasons. Over the region with strong storm-track signals in North America, the model is able to predict the changes in statistics of extremes connected to storm-track changes (e.g., extreme low and high sea level pressure and extreme 2-m air temperature) in response to different ENSO phases. These results point toward the possibility of providing skillful seasonal predictions of the statistics of extratropical extremes over land using high-resolution coupled models.

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Thomas L. Delworth, Anthony J. Broccoli, Anthony Rosati, Ronald J. Stouffer, V. Balaji, John A. Beesley, William F. Cooke, Keith W. Dixon, John Dunne, K. A. Dunne, Jeffrey W. Durachta, Kirsten L. Findell, Paul Ginoux, Anand Gnanadesikan, C. T. Gordon, Stephen M. Griffies, Rich Gudgel, Matthew J. Harrison, Isaac M. Held, Richard S. Hemler, Larry W. Horowitz, Stephen A. Klein, Thomas R. Knutson, Paul J. Kushner, Amy R. Langenhorst, Hyun-Chul Lee, Shian-Jiann Lin, Jian Lu, Sergey L. Malyshev, P. C. D. Milly, V. Ramaswamy, Joellen Russell, M. Daniel Schwarzkopf, Elena Shevliakova, Joseph J. Sirutis, Michael J. Spelman, William F. Stern, Michael Winton, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Bruce Wyman, Fanrong Zeng, and Rong Zhang

Abstract

The formulation and simulation characteristics of two new global coupled climate models developed at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) are described. The models were designed to simulate atmospheric and oceanic climate and variability from the diurnal time scale through multicentury climate change, given our computational constraints. In particular, an important goal was to use the same model for both experimental seasonal to interannual forecasting and the study of multicentury global climate change, and this goal has been achieved.

Two versions of the coupled model are described, called CM2.0 and CM2.1. The versions differ primarily in the dynamical core used in the atmospheric component, along with the cloud tuning and some details of the land and ocean components. For both coupled models, the resolution of the land and atmospheric components is 2° latitude × 2.5° longitude; the atmospheric model has 24 vertical levels. The ocean resolution is 1° in latitude and longitude, with meridional resolution equatorward of 30° becoming progressively finer, such that the meridional resolution is 1/3° at the equator. There are 50 vertical levels in the ocean, with 22 evenly spaced levels within the top 220 m. The ocean component has poles over North America and Eurasia to avoid polar filtering. Neither coupled model employs flux adjustments.

The control simulations have stable, realistic climates when integrated over multiple centuries. Both models have simulations of ENSO that are substantially improved relative to previous GFDL coupled models. The CM2.0 model has been further evaluated as an ENSO forecast model and has good skill (CM2.1 has not been evaluated as an ENSO forecast model). Generally reduced temperature and salinity biases exist in CM2.1 relative to CM2.0. These reductions are associated with 1) improved simulations of surface wind stress in CM2.1 and associated changes in oceanic gyre circulations; 2) changes in cloud tuning and the land model, both of which act to increase the net surface shortwave radiation in CM2.1, thereby reducing an overall cold bias present in CM2.0; and 3) a reduction of ocean lateral viscosity in the extratropics in CM2.1, which reduces sea ice biases in the North Atlantic.

Both models have been used to conduct a suite of climate change simulations for the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report and are able to simulate the main features of the observed warming of the twentieth century. The climate sensitivities of the CM2.0 and CM2.1 models are 2.9 and 3.4 K, respectively. These sensitivities are defined by coupling the atmospheric components of CM2.0 and CM2.1 to a slab ocean model and allowing the model to come into equilibrium with a doubling of atmospheric CO2. The output from a suite of integrations conducted with these models is freely available online (see http://nomads.gfdl.noaa.gov/).

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