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Susan C. Bates

Abstract

Many previous studies point to a connection between the annual cycle and interannual variability in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. To investigate the importance of the annual cycle in the generation of tropical Atlantic variability (TAV) as well as its associated coupled feedback mechanisms, a set of controlled experiments is conducted using a global coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation model (GCM) in which the climatological annual cycle is modified. An anomaly coupling strategy was developed to improve the model-simulated annual cycle and mean sea surface temperature (SST), which is critical to the experiments. Experiments include a control simulation in which the annual cycle is present and a fixed annual cycle simulation in which the coupled model is forced to remain in a perpetual annual mean state. Results reveal that the patterns of TAV, defined as the leading three rotated EOFs, and their relationship to coupled feedback mechanisms are present even in the absence of the annual cycle, suggesting that the generation of TAV is not dependent on the annual cycle. Each pattern of variability arises from an alteration of the easterly trade winds. Results suggest that it is the presence of these winds in the mean state that is the determining factor for the structure of the coupled ocean–atmosphere variability. Additionally, the patterns of variability persist longer in the simulation with no annual cycle. Most remarkable is the doubling of the decay phase related to the north tropical Atlantic variability, which is attributed to the persistence of the local wind–evaporation–sea surface temperature (WES) feedback mechanism. The author concludes that the annual cycle acts to cut off or interrupt conditions favorable for feedback mechanisms to operate, therefore putting a limit on the length of the event life cycle.

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Susan C. Bates

Abstract

Numerous studies and observational analyses point to a connection between the annual cycle and tropical Atlantic variability, specifically the influence of the seasons. Although a previous study has shown that the annual cycle is not necessary for the generation of this variability, this study demonstrates that the annual cycle provides particular conditions that modulate this variability. Particular seasons are investigated through the use of a coupled ocean–atmosphere model using anomaly coupling as the coupling strategy in order to control the mean state of the system. To isolate the influence of each season, the model is integrated in perpetuated mean states that simulate perpetual boreal spring, summer, fall, and winter seasonal mean states. These are compared to a control simulation that contains an annual cycle. Evidence is shown that the annual cycle modulates tropical Atlantic variability in the following three ways: 1) the background mean state for some seasons provides favorable conditions for the growth of particular patterns through regional air–sea feedback mechanisms, 2) mechanisms that excite the variability are seasonally dependent, and 3) the progression through the annual cycle is important for certain variabilities to be excited and grow.

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Clara Deser, Susan Wahl, and John J. Bates

Abstract

Satellite observations of visible cloudiness and sea surface temperature (SST) are used to test the hypothesis that the configuration of cool low-level winds blowing across a sharp SST front in the equatorial eastern Pacific gives rise to stratiform clouds on the warm (downstream) side of the front. The results show that there is a maximum in low clouds over the equatorial front during the cold season of 1988 when the front and cross-isotherm winds were strong. The low-cloud maximum was reduced in the warm El Niño year of 1987, consistent with the weakening of the front. Instability waves along the equatorial front were pronounced during the summer and autumn of 1988. The results show a strong association between visible cloud and the SST waves, with enhanced (reduced) cloudiness in the warm troughs (cold crests) of the waves.

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Ernesto Muñoz, Wilbert Weijer, Semyon A. Grodsky, Susan C. Bates, and Ilana Wainer

Abstract

This study analyzes important aspects of the tropical Atlantic Ocean from simulations of the fourth version of the Community Climate System Model (CCSM4): the mean sea surface temperature (SST) and wind stress, the Atlantic warm pools, the principal modes of SST variability, and the heat budget in the Benguela region. The main goal was to assess the similarities and differences between the CCSM4 simulations and observations. The results indicate that the tropical Atlantic overall is realistic in CCSM4. However, there are still significant biases in the CCSM4 Atlantic SSTs, with a colder tropical North Atlantic and a hotter tropical South Atlantic, that are related to biases in the wind stress. These are also reflected in the Atlantic warm pools in April and September, with its volume greater than in observations in April and smaller than in observations in September. The variability of SSTs in the tropical Atlantic is well represented in CCSM4. However, in the equatorial and tropical South Atlantic regions, CCSM4 has two distinct modes of variability, in contrast to observed behavior. A model heat budget analysis of the Benguela region indicates that the variability of the upper-ocean temperature is dominated by vertical advection, followed by meridional advection.

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Susan C. Bates, Baylor Fox-Kemper, Steven R. Jayne, William G. Large, Samantha Stevenson, and Stephen G. Yeager

Abstract

Air–sea fluxes from the Community Climate System Model version 4 (CCSM4) are compared with the Coordinated Ocean-Ice Reference Experiment (CORE) dataset to assess present-day mean biases, variability errors, and late twentieth-century trend differences. CCSM4 is improved over the previous version, CCSM3, in both air–sea heat and freshwater fluxes in some regions; however, a large increase in net shortwave radiation into the ocean may contribute to an enhanced hydrological cycle. The authors provide a new baseline for assessment of flux variance at annual and interannual frequency bands in future model versions and contribute a new metric for assessing the coupling between the atmospheric and oceanic planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes of any climate model. Maps of the ratio of CCSM4 variance to CORE reveal that variance on annual time scales has larger error than on interannual time scales and that different processes cause errors in mean, annual, and interannual frequency bands. Air temperature and specific humidity in the CCSM4 atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) follow the sea surface conditions much more closely than is found in CORE. Sensible and latent heat fluxes are less of a negative feedback to sea surface temperature warming in the CCSM4 than in the CORE data with the model’s PBL allowing for more heating of the ocean’s surface.

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Dongxia Yang, Julie M. Arblaster, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Eun-Pa Lim, Susan Bates, and Nan Rosenbloom

Abstract

The Southern Hemisphere summertime eddy-driven jet and storm tracks have shifted poleward over the recent few decades. In previous studies, explanations have mainly stressed the influence of external forcing in driving this trend. Here we examine the role of internal tropical SST variability in controlling the austral summer jet’s poleward migration, with a focus on interdecadal time scales. The role of external forcing and internal variability are isolated by using a hierarchy of Community Earth System Model version 1 (CESM1) simulations, including the pre-industrial control, large ensemble, and pacemaker runs. Model simulations suggest that in the early twenty-first century, both external forcing and internal tropical Pacific SST variability are important in driving a positive southern annular mode (SAM) phase and a poleward migration of the eddy-driven jet. Tropical Pacific SST variability, associated with the negative phase of the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO), acts to shift the jet poleward over the southern Indian and southwestern Pacific Oceans and intensify the jet in the southeastern Pacific basin, while external forcing drives a significant poleward jet shift in the South Atlantic basin. In response to both external forcing and decadal Pacific SST variability, the transient eddy momentum flux convergence belt in the middle latitudes experiences a poleward migration due to the enhanced meridional temperature gradient, leading to a zonally symmetric southward migration of the eddy-driven jet. This mechanism distinguishes the influence of the IPO on the midlatitude circulation from the dynamical impact of ENSO, with the latter mainly promoting the subtropical wave-breaking critical latitude poleward and pushing the midlatitude jet to higher latitudes.

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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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Joseph Schoonover, William Dewar, Nicolas Wienders, Jonathan Gula, James C. McWilliams, M. Jeroen Molemaker, Susan C. Bates, Gokhan Danabasoglu, and Stephen Yeager

Abstract

Numerical simulations are conducted across model platforms and resolutions with a focus on the North Atlantic. Barotropic vorticity diagnostics confirm that the subtropical gyre is characterized by an inviscid balance primarily between the applied wind stress curl and bottom pressure torque. In an area-integrated budget over the Gulf Stream, the northward return flow is balanced by bottom pressure torque. These integrated budgets are shown to be consistent across model platforms and resolution, suggesting that these balances are robust. Two of the simulations, at 100- and 10-km resolutions, produce a more northerly separating Gulf Stream but obtain the correct integrated vorticity balances. In these simulations, viscous torque is nonnegligible on smaller scales, indicating that the separation is linked to the details of the local dynamics. These results are shown to be consistent with a scale analysis argument that suggests that the biharmonic viscous torque in particular is upsetting the inviscid balance in simulations with a more northerly separation. In addition to providing evidence for locally controlled inviscid separation, these results provide motivation to revisit the formulation of subgrid-scale parameterizations in general circulation models.

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Gokhan Danabasoglu, Susan C. Bates, Bruce P. Briegleb, Steven R. Jayne, Markus Jochum, William G. Large, Synte Peacock, and Steve G. Yeager

Abstract

The ocean component of the Community Climate System Model version 4 (CCSM4) is described, and its solutions from the twentieth-century (20C) simulations are documented in comparison with observations and those of CCSM3. The improvements to the ocean model physical processes include new parameterizations to represent previously missing physics and modifications of existing parameterizations to incorporate recent new developments. In comparison with CCSM3, the new solutions show some significant improvements that can be attributed to these model changes. These include a better equatorial current structure, a sharper thermocline, and elimination of the cold bias of the equatorial cold tongue all in the Pacific Ocean; reduced sea surface temperature (SST) and salinity biases along the North Atlantic Current path; and much smaller potential temperature and salinity biases in the near-surface Pacific Ocean. Other improvements include a global-mean SST that is more consistent with the present-day observations due to a different spinup procedure from that used in CCSM3. Despite these improvements, many of the biases present in CCSM3 still exist in CCSM4. A major concern continues to be the substantial heat content loss in the ocean during the preindustrial control simulation from which the 20C cases start. This heat loss largely reflects the top of the atmospheric model heat loss rate in the coupled system, and it essentially determines the abyssal ocean potential temperature biases in the 20C simulations. There is also a deep salty bias in all basins. As a result of this latter bias in the deep North Atlantic, the parameterized overflow waters cannot penetrate much deeper than in CCSM3.

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