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A. Bellucci
,
S. Gualdi
, and
A. Navarra

Abstract

The double–intertropical convergence zone (DI) systematic error, affecting state-of-the-art coupled general circulation models (CGCMs), is examined in the multimodel Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) ensemble of simulations of the twentieth-century climate. The aim of this study is to quantify the DI error on precipitation in the tropical Pacific, with a specific focus on the relationship between the DI error and the representation of large-scale vertical circulation regimes in climate models. The DI rainfall signal is analyzed using a regime-sorting approach for the vertical circulation regimes. Through the use of this compositing technique, precipitation events are regime sorted based on the large-scale vertical motions, as represented by the midtropospheric Lagrangian pressure tendency ω 500 dynamical proxy. This methodology allows partition of the precipitation signal into deep and shallow convective components. Following the regime-sorting diagnosis, the total DI bias is split into an error affecting the magnitude of precipitation associated with individual convective events and an error affecting the frequency of occurrence of single convective regimes. It is shown that, despite the existing large intramodel differences, CGCMs can be ultimately grouped into a few homogenous clusters, each featuring a well-defined rainfall–vertical circulation relationship in the DI region. Three major behavioral clusters are identified within the AR4 models ensemble: two unimodal distributions, featuring maximum precipitation under subsidence and deep convection regimes, respectively, and one bimodal distribution, displaying both components. Extending this analysis to both coupled and uncoupled (atmosphere only) AR4 simulations reveals that the DI bias in CGCMs is mainly due to the overly frequent occurrence of deep convection regimes, whereas the error on rainfall magnitude associated with individual convective events is overall consistent with errors already present in the corresponding atmosphere stand-alone simulations. A critical parameter controlling the strength of the DI systematic error is identified in the model-dependent sea surface temperature (SST) threshold leading to the onset of deep convection (THR), combined with the average SST in the southeastern Pacific. The models featuring a THR that is systematically colder (warmer) than their mean surface temperature are more (less) prone to exhibit a spurious southern intertropical convergence zone.

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S. Gualdi
,
E. Scoccimarro
, and
A. Navarra

Abstract

This study investigates the possible changes that greenhouse global warming might generate in the characteristics of tropical cyclones (TCs). The analysis has been performed using scenario climate simulations carried out with a fully coupled high-resolution global general circulation model. The capability of the model to reproduce a reasonably realistic TC climatology has been assessed by comparing the model results from a simulation of the twentieth century with observations. The model appears to be able to simulate tropical cyclone–like vortices with many features similar to the observed TCs. The simulated TC activity exhibits realistic geographical distribution, seasonal modulation, and interannual variability, suggesting that the model is able to reproduce the major basic mechanisms that link TC occurrence with large-scale circulation. The results from the climate scenarios reveal a substantial general reduction of TC frequency when the atmospheric CO2 concentration is doubled and quadrupled. The reduction appears particularly evident for the tropical western North Pacific (WNP) and North Atlantic (ATL). In the NWP the weaker TC activity seems to be associated with reduced convective instabilities. In the ATL region the weaker TC activity seems to be due to both the increased stability of the atmosphere and a stronger vertical wind shear. Despite the generally reduced TC activity, there is evidence of increased rainfall associated with the simulated cyclones. Finally, the action of the TCs remains well confined to the tropical region and the peak of TC number remains equatorward of 20° latitude in both hemispheres, notwithstanding the overall warming of the tropical upper ocean and the expansion poleward of warm SSTs.

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A. Bellucci
,
A. Mariotti
, and
S. Gualdi

Abstract

Results from a study inspecting the origins of multidecadal variability in the North Atlantic sea surface temperature (NASST) are presented. The authors target in particular the 1940–75 “warm-to-cold” transition, an event that is generally framed in the context of the longer-term Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) cycle, in turn associated with the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) internal variability. Here the authors examine the ability of uninitialized, historical integrations from the phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) archive to retrospectively reproduce this specific episode of twentieth-century climatic history, under a hierarchy of forcing conditions. For this purpose, both standard and so-called historical Misc CMIP5 simulations of the historical climate (combining selected natural and anthropogenic forcings) are exploited. Based on this multimodel analysis, evidence is found for a significant influence of anthropogenic agents on multidecadal sea surface temperature (SST) fluctuations across the Atlantic sector, suggesting that anthropogenic aerosols and greenhouse gases might have played a key role in the 1940–75 North Atlantic cooling. However, the diagnosed forced response in CMIP5 models appears to be affected by a large uncertainty, with only a limited subset of models displaying significant skill in reproducing the mid-twentieth-century NASST cooling. Such uncertainty originates from the existence of well-defined behavioral clusters within the analyzed CMIP5 ensembles, with the bulk of the models splitting into two main clusters. Such a strong polarization calls for some caution when using a multimodel ensemble mean in climate model analyses, as averaging across fairly distinct model populations may result, through mutual cancellation, in a rather artificial description of the actual multimodel ensemble behavior.

A potentially important role for both anthropogenic aerosols and greenhouse gases with regard to the observed North Atlantic multidecadal variability has clear implications for decadal predictability and predictions. The uncertainty associated with alternative aerosol and greenhouse gas emission scenarios should be duly accounted for in designing a common protocol for coordinated decadal forecast experiments.

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Albert S. Fischer
,
Pascal Terray
,
Eric Guilyardi
,
Silvio Gualdi
, and
Pascale Delecluse

Abstract

The question of whether and how tropical Indian Ocean dipole or zonal mode (IOZM) interannual variability is independent of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability in the Pacific is addressed in a comparison of twin 200-yr runs of a coupled climate model. The first is a reference simulation, and the second has ENSO-scale variability suppressed with a constraint on the tropical Pacific wind stress. The IOZM can exist in the model without ENSO, and the composite evolution of the main anomalies in the Indian Ocean in the two simulations is virtually identical. Its growth depends on a positive feedback between anomalous equatorial easterly winds, upwelling equatorial and coastal Kelvin waves reducing the thermocline depth and sea surface temperature off the coast of Sumatra, and the atmospheric dynamical response to the subsequently reduced convection.

Two IOZM triggers in the boreal spring are found. The first is an anomalous Hadley circulation over the eastern tropical Indian Ocean and Maritime Continent, with an early northward penetration of the Southern Hemisphere southeasterly trades. This situation grows out of cooler sea surface temperatures in the southeastern tropical Indian Ocean left behind by a reinforcement of the late austral summer winds. The second trigger is a consequence of a zonal shift in the center of convection associated with a developing El Niño, a Walker cell anomaly. The first trigger is the only one present in the constrained simulation and is similar to the evolution of anomalies in 1994, when the IOZM occurred in the absence of a Pacific El Niño state. The presence of these two triggers—the first independent of ENSO and the second phase locking the IOZM to El Niño—allows an understanding of both the existence of IOZM events when Pacific conditions are neutral and the significant correlation between the IOZM and El Niño.

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A. Navarra
,
S. Gualdi
,
S. Masina
,
S. Behera
,
J.-J. Luo
,
S. Masson
,
E. Guilyardi
,
P. Delecluse
, and
T. Yamagata

Abstract

The effect of atmospheric horizontal resolution on tropical variability is investigated within the modified Scale Interaction Experiment (SINTEX) coupled model, SINTEX-Frontier (SINTEX-F), developed jointly at Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), L’Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (IPSL), and the Frontier Research System. The ocean resolution is not changed as the atmospheric model resolution is modified from spectral resolution 30 (T30) to spectral resolution 106 (T106). The horizontal resolutions of the atmospheric model T30 and T106 are investigated in terms of the coupling characteristics, frequency, and variability of the tropical ocean–atmosphere interactions. It appears that the T106 resolution is generally beneficial even if it does not eliminate all the major systematic errors of the coupled model. There is an excessive shift west of the cold tongue and ENSO variability, and high resolution also has a somewhat negative impact on the variability in the east Indian Ocean. A dominant 2-yr peak for the Niño-3 variability in the T30 model is moderated in the T106 as it shifts to a longer time scale. At high resolution, new processes come into play, such as the coupling of tropical instability waves, the resolution of coastal flows at the Pacific–Mexican coasts, and improved coastal forcing along the coast of South America. The delayed oscillator seems to be the main mechanism that generates the interannual variability in both models, but the models realize it in different ways. In the T30 model it is confined close to the equator, involving relatively fast equatorial and near-equatorial modes, and in the high-resolution model, it involves a wider latitudinal region and slower waves. It is speculated that the extent of the region that is involved in the interannual variability may be linked to the time scale of the variability itself.

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E. Guilyardi
,
S. Gualdi
,
J. Slingo
,
A. Navarra
,
P. Delecluse
,
J. Cole
,
G. Madec
,
M. Roberts
,
M. Latif
, and
L. Terray

Abstract

A systematic modular approach to investigate the respective roles of the ocean and atmosphere in setting El Niño characteristics in coupled general circulation models is presented. Several state-of-the-art coupled models sharing either the same atmosphere or the same ocean are compared. Major results include 1) the dominant role of the atmosphere model in setting El Niño characteristics (periodicity and base amplitude) and errors (regularity) and 2) the considerable improvement of simulated El Niño power spectra—toward lower frequency—when the atmosphere resolution is significantly increased. Likely reasons for such behavior are briefly discussed. It is argued that this new modular strategy represents a generic approach to identifying the source of both coupled mechanisms and model error and will provide a methodology for guiding model improvement.

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S. Gualdi
,
S. Somot
,
L. Li
,
V. Artale
,
M. Adani
,
A. Bellucci
,
A. Braun
,
S. Calmanti
,
A. Carillo
,
A. Dell'Aquila
,
M. Déqué
,
C. Dubois
,
A. Elizalde
,
A. Harzallah
,
D. Jacob
,
B. L'Hévéder
,
W. May
,
P. Oddo
,
P. Ruti
,
A. Sanna
,
G. Sannino
,
E. Scoccimarro
,
F. Sevault
, and
A. Navarra

In this article, the authors describe an innovative multimodel system developed within the Climate Change and Impact Research: The Mediterranean Environment (CIRCE) European Union (EU) Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project and used to produce simulations of the Mediterranean Sea regional climate. The models include high-resolution Mediterranean Sea components, which allow assessment of the role of the basin and in particular of the air–sea feedbacks in the climate of the region.

The models have been integrated from 1951 to 2050, using observed radiative forcings during the first half of the simulation period and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario during the second half.

The projections show a substantial warming (about 1.5°–2°C) and a significant decrease of precipitation (about 5%) in the region for the scenario period. However, locally the changes might be even larger. In the same period, the projected surface net heat loss decreases, leading to a weaker cooling of the Mediterranean Sea by the atmosphere, whereas the water budget appears to increase, leading the basin to lose more water through its surface than in the past. Overall, these results are consistent with the findings of previous scenario simulations, such as the Prediction of Regional Scenarios and Uncertainties for Defining European Climate Change Risks and Effects (PRUDENCE), Ensemble-Based Predictions of Climate Changes and Their Impacts (ENSEMBLES), and phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3). The agreement suggests that these findings are robust to substantial changes in the configuration of the models used to make the simulations.

Finally, the models produce a 2021–50 mean steric sea level rise that ranges between +7 and +12 cm, with respect to the period of reference.

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T. N. Palmer
,
A. Alessandri
,
U. Andersen
,
P. Cantelaube
,
M. Davey
,
P. Délécluse
,
M. Déqué
,
E. Díez
,
F. J. Doblas-Reyes
,
H. Feddersen
,
R. Graham
,
S. Gualdi
,
J.-F. Guérémy
,
R. Hagedorn
,
M. Hoshen
,
N. Keenlyside
,
M. Latif
,
A. Lazar
,
E. Maisonnave
,
V. Marletto
,
A. P. Morse
,
B. Orfila
,
P. Rogel
,
J.-M. Terres
, and
M. C. Thomson

A multi-model ensemble-based system for seasonal-to-interannual prediction has been developed in a joint European project known as DEMETER (Development of a European Multimodel Ensemble Prediction System for Seasonal to Interannual Prediction). The DEMETER system comprises seven global atmosphere–ocean coupled models, each running from an ensemble of initial conditions. Comprehensive hindcast evaluation demonstrates the enhanced reliability and skill of the multimodel ensemble over a more conventional single-model ensemble approach. In addition, innovative examples of the application of seasonal ensemble forecasts in malaria and crop yield prediction are discussed. The strategy followed in DEMETER deals with important problems such as communication across disciplines, downscaling of climate simulations, and use of probabilistic forecast information in the applications sector, illustrating the economic value of seasonal-to-interannual prediction for society as a whole.

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P. Drobinski
,
V. Ducrocq
,
P. Alpert
,
E. Anagnostou
,
K. Béranger
,
M. Borga
,
I. Braud
,
A. Chanzy
,
S. Davolio
,
G. Delrieu
,
C. Estournel
,
N. Filali Boubrahmi
,
J. Font
,
V. Grubišić
,
S. Gualdi
,
V. Homar
,
B. Ivančan-Picek
,
C. Kottmeier
,
V. Kotroni
,
K. Lagouvardos
,
P. Lionello
,
M. C. Llasat
,
W. Ludwig
,
C. Lutoff
,
A. Mariotti
,
E. Richard
,
R. Romero
,
R. Rotunno
,
O. Roussot
,
I. Ruin
,
S. Somot
,
I. Taupier-Letage
,
J. Tintore
,
R. Uijlenhoet
, and
H. Wernli

The Mediterranean countries are experiencing important challenges related to the water cycle, including water shortages and floods, extreme winds, and ice/snow storms, that impact critically the socioeconomic vitality in the area (causing damage to property, threatening lives, affecting the energy and transportation sectors, etc.). There are gaps in our understanding of the Mediterranean water cycle and its dynamics that include the variability of the Mediterranean Sea water budget and its feedback on the variability of the continental precipitation through air–sea interactions, the impact of precipitation variability on aquifer recharge, river discharge, and soil water content and vegetation characteristics specific to the Mediterranean basin and the mechanisms that control the location and intensity of heavy precipitating systems that often produce floods. The Hydrological Cycle in Mediterranean Experiment (HyMeX) program is a 10-yr concerted experimental effort at the international level that aims to advance the scientific knowledge of the water cycle variability in all compartments (land, sea, and atmosphere) and at various time and spatial scales. It also aims to improve the processes-based models needed for forecasting hydrometeorological extremes and the models of the regional climate system for predicting regional climate variability and evolution. Finally, it aims to assess the social and economic vulnerability to hydrometeorological natural hazards in the Mediterranean and the adaptation capacity of the territories and populations therein to provide support to policy makers to cope with water-related problems under the influence of climate change, by linking scientific outcomes with related policy requirements.

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P. M. Ruti
,
S. Somot
,
F. Giorgi
,
C. Dubois
,
E. Flaounas
,
A. Obermann
,
A. Dell’Aquila
,
G. Pisacane
,
A. Harzallah
,
E. Lombardi
,
B. Ahrens
,
N. Akhtar
,
A. Alias
,
T. Arsouze
,
R. Aznar
,
S. Bastin
,
J. Bartholy
,
K. Béranger
,
J. Beuvier
,
S. Bouffies-Cloché
,
J. Brauch
,
W. Cabos
,
S. Calmanti
,
J.-C. Calvet
,
A. Carillo
,
D. Conte
,
E. Coppola
,
V. Djurdjevic
,
P. Drobinski
,
A. Elizalde-Arellano
,
M. Gaertner
,
P. Galàn
,
C. Gallardo
,
S. Gualdi
,
M. Goncalves
,
O. Jorba
,
G. Jordà
,
B. L’Heveder
,
C. Lebeaupin-Brossier
,
L. Li
,
G. Liguori
,
P. Lionello
,
D. Maciàs
,
P. Nabat
,
B. Önol
,
B. Raikovic
,
K. Ramage
,
F. Sevault
,
G. Sannino
,
M. V. Struglia
,
A. Sanna
,
C. Torma
, and
V. Vervatis

Abstract

The Mediterranean is expected to be one of the most prominent and vulnerable climate change “hotspots” of the twenty-first century, and the physical mechanisms underlying this finding are still not clear. Furthermore, complex interactions and feedbacks involving ocean–atmosphere–land–biogeochemical processes play a prominent role in modulating the climate and environment of the Mediterranean region on a range of spatial and temporal scales. Therefore, it is critical to provide robust climate change information for use in vulnerability–impact–adaptation assessment studies considering the Mediterranean as a fully coupled environmental system. The Mediterranean Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (Med-CORDEX) initiative aims at coordinating the Mediterranean climate modeling community toward the development of fully coupled regional climate simulations, improving all relevant components of the system from atmosphere and ocean dynamics to land surface, hydrology, and biogeochemical processes. The primary goals of Med-CORDEX are to improve understanding of past climate variability and trends and to provide more accurate and reliable future projections, assessing in a quantitative and robust way the added value of using high-resolution and coupled regional climate models. The coordination activities and the scientific outcomes of Med-CORDEX can produce an important framework to foster the development of regional Earth system models in several key regions worldwide.

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