Response of the NCAR General Circulation Model to Prescribed Changes in Ocean Surface Temperature. Part II: Midlatitude and Subtropical Changes

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307
  • | 2 Department of Meteorology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 53706
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Abstract

The sensitivity of a six-layer NCAR atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) to a variety of idealized, very large amplitude, midlatitude and subtropical North Pacific Ocean surface temperature (OST) anomalies is analyzed. In the Pacific sector, the model exhibits a differential sensitivity depending on the latitudinal position of the imposed anomaly. Typically, the model response is a combination of a relative direct thermal circulation, an alteration in the pattern of cyclonic activity, and a selective wave response dependent on the planetary waves present in the unmodified control case. The extent to which the background planetary waves affect the model response is dependent on several factors including latitude-dependent features of the control case and the relative position of the anomaly. Analogous experiments with a simple quasi-geostrophic model are useful in isolating important physical and dynamical processes, and thereby assist in the interpretation of the GCM results. An analysis of the correlation between observed tropospheric thickness and North Pacific OST provides some confirmation of the consistent model result of an anomalously warm troposphere over a warm OST anomaly.

Abstract

The sensitivity of a six-layer NCAR atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) to a variety of idealized, very large amplitude, midlatitude and subtropical North Pacific Ocean surface temperature (OST) anomalies is analyzed. In the Pacific sector, the model exhibits a differential sensitivity depending on the latitudinal position of the imposed anomaly. Typically, the model response is a combination of a relative direct thermal circulation, an alteration in the pattern of cyclonic activity, and a selective wave response dependent on the planetary waves present in the unmodified control case. The extent to which the background planetary waves affect the model response is dependent on several factors including latitude-dependent features of the control case and the relative position of the anomaly. Analogous experiments with a simple quasi-geostrophic model are useful in isolating important physical and dynamical processes, and thereby assist in the interpretation of the GCM results. An analysis of the correlation between observed tropospheric thickness and North Pacific OST provides some confirmation of the consistent model result of an anomalously warm troposphere over a warm OST anomaly.

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