Decadal prediction skill using a high-resolution climate model
The ability of a high-resolution coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (with a horizontal resolution of a quarter of a degree in the ocean and of about 0.5° in the atmosphere) to predict the annual means of temperature, precipitation, sea-ice volume and extent is assessed based on initialized hindcasts over the 1993–2009 period. Significant skill in predicting sea surface temperatures is obtained, especially over the North Atlantic, the tropical Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. The Sea Ice Extent and volume are also reasonably predicted in winter (March) and summer (September). The model skill is mainly due to the external forcing associated with well-mixed greenhouse gases. A decrease in the global warming rate associated with a negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is simulated by the model over a suite of 10-year periods when initialized from starting dates between 1999 and 2003. The model ability to predict regional change is investigated by focusing on the mid-90’s Atlantic Ocean subpolar gyre warming. The model simulates the North Atlantic warming associated with a meridional heat transport increase, a strengthening of the North Atlantic current and a deepening of the mixed layer over the Labrador Sea. The atmosphere plays a role in the warming through a modulation of the North Atlantic Oscillation: a negative sea level pressure anomaly, located south of the subpolar gyre is associated with a wind speed decrease over the subpolar gyre. This leads to a reduced oceanic heat-loss and favors a northward displacement of anomalously warm and salty subtropical water that both concur to the subpolar gyre warming. We finally conclude that the subpolar gyre warming is mainly triggered by ocean dynamics with a possible contribution of atmospheric circulation favoring its persistence.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00382-017-3528-x