Forced and Free Variations of the Surface Temperature Field in a General Circulation Model

Gerald R. North Climate System Research Program, Department of Meteorology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

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Kuor-Jier Joseph Yip Climate System Research Program, Department of Meteorology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

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Lai-Yung Leung Climate System Research Program, Department of Meteorology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

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Robert M. Chervin National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

The concept of “forced” and “free” variations of large-scale surface temperature is examined by analyzing several long runs of the Community Climate Model (CCMO) with idealized boundary conditions and forcing. 1) The planet is all land with uniform sea-level topography and fixed soil moisture. 2) The planetary surface and prescribed ozone are reflection symmetric across the equator and there is no generation of snow. 3) The obliquity is set to zero so that the climate is for a perpetual equinox solar insolation (i.e., sun fixed over the equator). After examining some relevant aspects of the undisturbed climate (surface temperature field) such as temporal and spatial autocorrelations and the corresponding spectra, two types of changes in external forcing are imposed to study the model response: 1) sinusoidal changes of the solar constant (5%, 10%, 90%, and 40% amplitudes) at periods of 15 and 30 days (the latter is the autocorrelation time for the global average surface temperature) and 20% at 60 days and 2) insertion of steady heat sources (points and zonal bands) of variable strength at the surface. Then the temporal spectra of large scales for the periodically forced climate and the ensemble-averaged influence functions are examined for the point source disturbed climates. In each class of experiments the response of ensemble-averaged amplitudes was found to be proportional to the amplitude of the forcing. These results suggest that the lowest moments of the surface temperature field have a particularly simple dependence on forcing. Furthermore, the apparent finiteness of the variance spectrum at low frequencies suggests that estimates of long-term statistics are stable in this type of atmospheric general circulation model.

Abstract

The concept of “forced” and “free” variations of large-scale surface temperature is examined by analyzing several long runs of the Community Climate Model (CCMO) with idealized boundary conditions and forcing. 1) The planet is all land with uniform sea-level topography and fixed soil moisture. 2) The planetary surface and prescribed ozone are reflection symmetric across the equator and there is no generation of snow. 3) The obliquity is set to zero so that the climate is for a perpetual equinox solar insolation (i.e., sun fixed over the equator). After examining some relevant aspects of the undisturbed climate (surface temperature field) such as temporal and spatial autocorrelations and the corresponding spectra, two types of changes in external forcing are imposed to study the model response: 1) sinusoidal changes of the solar constant (5%, 10%, 90%, and 40% amplitudes) at periods of 15 and 30 days (the latter is the autocorrelation time for the global average surface temperature) and 20% at 60 days and 2) insertion of steady heat sources (points and zonal bands) of variable strength at the surface. Then the temporal spectra of large scales for the periodically forced climate and the ensemble-averaged influence functions are examined for the point source disturbed climates. In each class of experiments the response of ensemble-averaged amplitudes was found to be proportional to the amplitude of the forcing. These results suggest that the lowest moments of the surface temperature field have a particularly simple dependence on forcing. Furthermore, the apparent finiteness of the variance spectrum at low frequencies suggests that estimates of long-term statistics are stable in this type of atmospheric general circulation model.

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