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Journal Article

Origin of regional climate differences: role of boundary conditions and model formulation in two GCMs


Bengtsson,  Lennart
The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;
Emeritus Scientific Members, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Cash, B. A., Schneider, E. K., & Bengtsson, L. (2005). Origin of regional climate differences: role of boundary conditions and model formulation in two GCMs. Climate Dynamics, 25(7-8), 709-723. doi:10.1007/s00382-005-0069-5.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-FE3F-A
Model differences in projections of extratropical regional climate change due to increasing greenhouse gases are investigated using two atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs): ECHAM4 (Max Planck Institute, version 4) and CCM3 (National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate Model version 3). Sea-surface temperature (SST) fields calculated from observations and coupled versions of the two models are used to force each AGCM in experiments based on time-slice methodology. Results from the forced AGCMs are then compared to coupled model results from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 2 (CMIP2) database. The time-slice methodology is verified by showing that the response of each model to doubled CO2 and SST forcing from the CMIP2 experiments is consistent with the results of the coupled GCMs. The differences in the responses of the models are attributed to (1) the different tropical SST warmings in the coupled simulations and (2) the different atmospheric model responses to the same tropical SST warmings. Both are found to have important contributions to differences in implied Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter extratropical regional 500 mb height and tropical precipitation climate changes. Forced teleconnection patterns from tropical SST differences are primarily responsible for sensitivity differences in the extratropical North Pacific, but have relatively little impact on the North Atlantic. There are also significant differences in the extratropical response of the models to the same tropical SST anomalies due to differences in numerical and physical parameterizations. Differences due to parameterizations dominate in the North Atlantic. Differences in the control climates of the two coupled models from the current climate, in particular for the coupled model containing CCM3, are also demonstrated to be important in leading to differences in extratropical regional sensitivity.