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Understanding El Niño in Ocean–Atmosphere General Circulation Models: Progress and Challenges

Eric Guilyardi
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Andrew Wittenberg
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Alexey Fedorov
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Mat Collins
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Chunzai Wang
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Antonietta Capotondi
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Geert Jan van Oldenborgh
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Tim Stockdale
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Determining how El Niño and its impacts may change over the next 10 to 100 years remains a difficult scientific challenge. Ocean-atmosphere coupled general circulation models (CGCMs) are routinely used both to analyze El Niño mechanisms and teleconnections and to predict its evolution on a broad range of time scales, from seasonal to centennial. The ability to simulate El Niño as an emergent property of these models has largely improved over the last few years. Nevertheless, the diversity of model simulations of present-day El Niño indicates current limitations in our ability to model this climate phenomenon and to anticipate changes in its characteristics. A review of the several factors that contribute to this diversity, as well as potential means to improve the simulation of El Niño, is presented.

LOCEAN/IPSL (CNRS/UPMC/IRD), Paris, France, and Walker Institute, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

GFDL, Princeton, New Jersey

FEDOROV—Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Met Office, Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

NOAA/AOML, Miami, Florida

University of Colorado, and NOAA, Boulder, Colorado

KNMI, De Bilt, Netherlands

ECMWF, Reading, United Kingdom

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dr. Eric Guilyardi, LOCEAN/IPSL, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, case 100, 4, place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cedex, France, E-mail: eric.guilyardi@locean-ipsl.upmc.fr

Determining how El Niño and its impacts may change over the next 10 to 100 years remains a difficult scientific challenge. Ocean-atmosphere coupled general circulation models (CGCMs) are routinely used both to analyze El Niño mechanisms and teleconnections and to predict its evolution on a broad range of time scales, from seasonal to centennial. The ability to simulate El Niño as an emergent property of these models has largely improved over the last few years. Nevertheless, the diversity of model simulations of present-day El Niño indicates current limitations in our ability to model this climate phenomenon and to anticipate changes in its characteristics. A review of the several factors that contribute to this diversity, as well as potential means to improve the simulation of El Niño, is presented.

LOCEAN/IPSL (CNRS/UPMC/IRD), Paris, France, and Walker Institute, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

GFDL, Princeton, New Jersey

FEDOROV—Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Met Office, Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

NOAA/AOML, Miami, Florida

University of Colorado, and NOAA, Boulder, Colorado

KNMI, De Bilt, Netherlands

ECMWF, Reading, United Kingdom

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dr. Eric Guilyardi, LOCEAN/IPSL, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, case 100, 4, place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cedex, France, E-mail: eric.guilyardi@locean-ipsl.upmc.fr
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