Multi-model projections of twenty-first century North Pacific winter wave climate under the IPCC A2 scenario

TitleMulti-model projections of twenty-first century North Pacific winter wave climate under the IPCC A2 scenario
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsGraham NE, Cayan DR, Bromirski PD, Flick RE
JournalClimate Dynamics
Date Published2013/03
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0930-7575
Accession NumberWOS:000315440100017
Keywordsatlantic ocean; atmosphere model; change simulations; climate change; heights; hemisphere storm tracks; interannual variability; model version-3 ccsm3; north pacific; ocean waves; reanalysis; sea; trends

A dynamical wave model implemented over the North Pacific Ocean was forced with winds from three coupled global climate models (CGCMs) run under a medium-to-high scenario for greenhouse gas emissions through the twenty-first century. The results are analyzed with respect to changes in upper quantiles of significant wave height (90th and 99th percentile H-S) during boreal winter. The three CGCMs produce surprisingly similar patterns of change in winter wave climate during the century, with waves becoming 10-15 % smaller over the lower mid-latitudes of the North Pacific, particularly in the central and western ocean. These decreases are closely associated with decreasing windspeeds along the southern flank of the main core of the westerlies. At higher latitudes, 99th percentile wave heights generally increase, though the patterns of change are less uniform than at lower latitudes. The increased wave heights at high latitudes appear to be due a variety of wind-related factors including both increased windspeeds and changes in the structure of the wind field, these varying from model to model. For one of the CGCMs, a commonly used statistical approach for estimating seasonal quantiles of H-S on the basis of seasonal mean sea level pressure (SLP) is used to develop a regression model from 60 years of twentieth century data as a training set, and then applied using twenty-first century SLP data. The statistical model reproduces the general pattern of decreasing twenty-first century wave heights south of similar to 40 N, but underestimates the magnitude of the changes by similar to 50-70 %, reflecting relatively weak coupling between sea level pressure and wave heights in the CGCM data and loss of variability in the statistically projected wave heights.

Short TitleClim. Dyn.
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