AbstractThere is observational and modeling evidence that low-frequency variability in the North Atlantic has significant implications for the global climate, particularly for the climate of the Northern Hemisphere. This study explores the representation of low-frequency variability in the Atlantic region in historical large ensemble and preindustrial control simulations performed with the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Compared to available observational estimates, it is found that the simulated variability in Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), North Atlantic sea surface temperature (NASST), and Sahel rainfall is underestimated on multidecadal time scales but comparable on interannual to decadal time scales. The weak multidecadal North Atlantic variability appears to be closely related to weaker-than-observed multidecadal variations in the simulated North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), as the AMOC and consequent NASST variability is impacted, to a great degree, by the NAO. Possible reasons for this weak multidecadal NAO variability are explored with reference to solutions from two atmosphere-only simulations with different lower boundary conditions and vertical resolution. Both simulations consistently reveal weaker-than-observed multidecadal NAO variability despite more realistic boundary conditions and better resolved dynamics than coupled simulations. The authors thus conjecture that the weak multidecadal NAO variability in CESM is likely due to deficiencies in air–sea coupling, resulting from shortcomings in the atmospheric model or coupling details.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jan 27, 2018
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