A Comparison of Some Tropical Ocean Models: Hindcast Skill and El Niño Evolution

View More View Less
  • 1 Scripps institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California
© Get Permissions
Full access

Abstract

Tropical Pacific SST hindcasts are examined in the Zebiak and Cane (Lamont), Latif (MPIZ), Oberhuber (OPYC), and GFDL ocean models, each forced by the same wind-stress fields over the 1970–85 time interval. Skill scores reveal that, although all the models exhibit significant skill, the regions where the skill is maximized differ from model to model. The simplest model (Lamont) has maximum skills in the eastern basin near the boundary while the three GCMs have maxima in central Pacific regions. We also examine, via canonical correlation analysis (CCA), the heat budgets of the surface layers of the Lamont, MPIZ, and OPYC models. We find that although similar spatial relationships exist for the mechanisms that excite SST anomalies (i.e., zonal advection, meridional advection, and vertical advection/mixing), the balance of the strength of them terms is different for each model. Vertical advection tends to control the large-scale structure of SST in the Lamont model, meridional advection provides the dominant large-scale forcing for SST anomalies in the MPIZ model, and all three terms are important in the region of developing SST in the OPYC model. CCA reconstructions of the El Niño events of 1972–73 and 1982–83 reveal that the Lamont model does not exhibit any clear eastward propagation of SST; the MPIZ model propagates SST anomalies eastward for both the 1972–73 and 1982–83 El Niño events while the OPYC model propagates SST eastward for the 1982–83 El Niño and develops SST in place for the 1972–73 El Niño.

Abstract

Tropical Pacific SST hindcasts are examined in the Zebiak and Cane (Lamont), Latif (MPIZ), Oberhuber (OPYC), and GFDL ocean models, each forced by the same wind-stress fields over the 1970–85 time interval. Skill scores reveal that, although all the models exhibit significant skill, the regions where the skill is maximized differ from model to model. The simplest model (Lamont) has maximum skills in the eastern basin near the boundary while the three GCMs have maxima in central Pacific regions. We also examine, via canonical correlation analysis (CCA), the heat budgets of the surface layers of the Lamont, MPIZ, and OPYC models. We find that although similar spatial relationships exist for the mechanisms that excite SST anomalies (i.e., zonal advection, meridional advection, and vertical advection/mixing), the balance of the strength of them terms is different for each model. Vertical advection tends to control the large-scale structure of SST in the Lamont model, meridional advection provides the dominant large-scale forcing for SST anomalies in the MPIZ model, and all three terms are important in the region of developing SST in the OPYC model. CCA reconstructions of the El Niño events of 1972–73 and 1982–83 reveal that the Lamont model does not exhibit any clear eastward propagation of SST; the MPIZ model propagates SST anomalies eastward for both the 1972–73 and 1982–83 El Niño events while the OPYC model propagates SST eastward for the 1982–83 El Niño and develops SST in place for the 1972–73 El Niño.

Save