Tropical Biases in CMIP5 Multimodel Ensemble: The Excessive Equatorial Pacific Cold Tongue and Double ITCZ Problems

TitleTropical Biases in CMIP5 Multimodel Ensemble: The Excessive Equatorial Pacific Cold Tongue and Double ITCZ Problems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsLi G., Xie SP
JournalJournal of Climate
Date Published2014/02
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0894-8755
Accession NumberWOS:000330816100024
KeywordsAtmosphere-ocean interaction; Climatology; convection parameterization; coupled climate; eastern pacific; gcm; General circulation models; general-circulation models; global precipitation; intercomparison; Model errors; models; ocean-atmosphere model; precipitation; project; seasonal cycle; temperature; Tropics

Errors of coupled general circulation models (CGCMs) limit their utility for climate prediction and projection. Origins of and feedback for tropical biases are investigated in the historical climate simulations of 18 CGCMs from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), together with the available Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) simulations. Based on an intermodel empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis of tropical Pacific precipitation, the excessive equatorial Pacific cold tongue and double intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) stand out as the most prominent errors of the current generation of CGCMs. The comparison of CMIP-AMIP pairs enables us to identify whether a given type of errors originates from atmospheric models. The equatorial Pacific cold tongue bias is associated with deficient precipitation and surface easterly wind biases in the western half of the basin in CGCMs, but these errors are absent in atmosphere-only models, indicating that the errors arise from the interaction with the ocean via Bjerknes feedback. For the double ITCZ problem, excessive precipitation south of the equator correlates well with excessive downward solar radiation in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) midlatitudes, an error traced back to atmospheric model simulations of cloud during austral spring and summer. This extratropical forcing of the ITCZ displacements is mediated by tropical ocean-atmosphere interaction and is consistent with recent studies of ocean-atmospheric energy transport balance.

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