Towards multi-resolution global climate modeling with ECHAM6-FESOM. Part II: climate variability

Thomas.Rackow [ at ]


This study forms part II of two papers describing ECHAM6-FESOM, a newly established global climate model with a unique multi-resolution sea ice-ocean component. While part I deals with the model description and the mean climate state, here we examine the internal climate variability of the model under constant present-day (1990) conditions. We (1) assess the internal variations in the model in terms of objective variability performance indices, (2) analyze variations in global mean surface temperature and put them in context to variations in the observed record, with particular emphasis on the recent warming slowdown, (3) analyze and validate the most common atmospheric and oceanic variability patterns, (4) diagnose the potential predictability of various climate indices, and (5) put the multi-resolution approach to the test by comparing two setups that differ only in oceanic resolution in the equatorial belt, where one ocean mesh keeps the coarse ~1° resolution applied in the adjacent open-ocean regions and the other mesh is gradually refined to ~0.25°. Objective variability performance indices show that, in the considered setups, ECHAM6-FESOM performs overall favourably compared to five well-established climate models. Internal variations of the global mean surface temperature in the model are consistent with observed fluctuations and suggest that the recent warming slowdown can be explained as a once-in-one-hundred-years event caused by internal climate variability; periods of strong cooling in the model (‘hiatus’ analogs) are mainly associated with ENSO-related variability and to a lesser degree also to PDO shifts, with the AMO playing a minor role. Common atmospheric and oceanic variability patterns are simulated largely consistent with their real counterparts. Typical deficits also found in other models at similar resolutions remain, in particular too weak non-seasonal variability of SSTs over large parts of the ocean and episodic periods of almost absent deep-water formation in the Labrador Sea, resulting in overestimated North Atlantic SST variability. Concerning the influence of locally (isotropically) increased resolution, the ENSO pattern and index statistics improve significantly with higher resolution around the equator, illustrating the potential of the novel unstructured-mesh method for global climate modeling.

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DOI 10.1007/s00382-016-3192-6

Cite as
Rackow, T. , Goessling, H. F. , Jung, T. , Sidorenko, D. , Semmler, T. , Barbi, D. and Handorf, D. (2018): Towards multi-resolution global climate modeling with ECHAM6-FESOM. Part II: climate variability , Climate Dynamics, 50 . doi: 10.1007/s00382-016-3192-6


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