The implications of initial model drift for decadal climate predictability using EC-Earth

Other literature type English OPEN
Sterl, Andreas (2016)
  • Journal: (issn: 1812-0792, eissn: 1812-0792)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.5194/os-2016-27
  • Subject:
    arxiv: Physics::Geophysics | Physics::Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics

The large heat capacity of the ocean as compared to the atmosphere provides a memory in the climate system that might have the potential for skilful climate predictions a few years ahead. However, experiments so far have only found limited predictability after accounting for the deterministic forcing signal provided by increased greenhouse gas concentrations. One of the problems is the drift that occurs when the model moves away from the initial conditions towards its own climate. This drift is often larger than the decadal signal to be predicted. In this paper we describe the drift occurring in the North Atlantic Ocean in the EC-Earth climate model and relate it to the lack of decadal predictability in that region. While this drift may be resolution dependent and disappear in higher resolution models, we identify a second reason for the low predictability. A subsurface heat content anomaly can only influence de atmosphere if (deep) convection couples it to the surface, but the occurrence of deep convection events is random and probably mainly determined by unpredictable atmospheric noise.
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