Atmospheric Variability on a Zonally Symmetric Land Planet

Lai-Yung Leung Meteorology Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

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Gerald R. North Meteorology Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

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Abstract

Atmospheric variability an a zonally symmetric planet in the absence of external forcing anomalies is studied. With idealized boundary conditions such as the absence of ocean and topography, and by using perpetual equinox solar forcing, a 15-year long stationary time series of the atmosphere is simulated with the NCAR Community Climate Model (CCM0). This provides sufficient time samples for realistic study of the properties of the atmosphere. Zonally averaged and space-time statistics for the surface air temperature field on this planet are presented. Such statistics can serve as noise climatologies for climate sensitivity experiments, allowing the effects of changes of external forcing on the atmosphere to be asssessed.

In search of a simple statistical model for atmospheric variability, the space-time spectra obtained from the CCM simulation are fitted statistically with a stochastic energy balance model. The space-time spectra for three zonal wavenumbers are found to be fitted satisfactorily by the stochastic model with only five parameters (a heat diffusion coefficient, a constant zonal advection speed, a radiative damping constant and two parameters for blue spatial noise amplitudes). The estimated parameters agree with previously obtained values. This suggests that useful statistics for large-scale atmospheric variability may be obtained from simple statistical models. With the method of analysis provided in this study, the ability of the stochastic model for describing atmospheric variability on a more realistic planet (including geography and seasonal cycle) can be tested. This may involve comparing space-time statistics from the stochastic model with observed quantities and by using empirical orthogonal functions as a basis set for expansion.

Abstract

Atmospheric variability an a zonally symmetric planet in the absence of external forcing anomalies is studied. With idealized boundary conditions such as the absence of ocean and topography, and by using perpetual equinox solar forcing, a 15-year long stationary time series of the atmosphere is simulated with the NCAR Community Climate Model (CCM0). This provides sufficient time samples for realistic study of the properties of the atmosphere. Zonally averaged and space-time statistics for the surface air temperature field on this planet are presented. Such statistics can serve as noise climatologies for climate sensitivity experiments, allowing the effects of changes of external forcing on the atmosphere to be asssessed.

In search of a simple statistical model for atmospheric variability, the space-time spectra obtained from the CCM simulation are fitted statistically with a stochastic energy balance model. The space-time spectra for three zonal wavenumbers are found to be fitted satisfactorily by the stochastic model with only five parameters (a heat diffusion coefficient, a constant zonal advection speed, a radiative damping constant and two parameters for blue spatial noise amplitudes). The estimated parameters agree with previously obtained values. This suggests that useful statistics for large-scale atmospheric variability may be obtained from simple statistical models. With the method of analysis provided in this study, the ability of the stochastic model for describing atmospheric variability on a more realistic planet (including geography and seasonal cycle) can be tested. This may involve comparing space-time statistics from the stochastic model with observed quantities and by using empirical orthogonal functions as a basis set for expansion.

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