Inability of CMIP5 models to simulate recent strengthening of the walker circulation: implications for projections

Kociuba, Greg and Power, Scott B. (2015) Inability of CMIP5 models to simulate recent strengthening of the walker circulation: implications for projections. Journal of Climate, 28 (1). pp. 20-35. ISSN 0894-8755

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Abstract

This paper examines changes in the strength of the Walker circulation (WC) using the pressure difference between the western and eastern equatorial Pacific. Changes in observations and in 35 climate models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) phase 5 (CMIP5) are determined. On the one hand, 78% of the models show a weakening of the WC over the twentieth century, consistent with the observations and previous studies using CMIP phase 3 (CMIP3) models. However, the observations also exhibit a strengthening in the last three decades (i.e., from 1980 to 2012) that is statistically significant at the 95% level. The models, on the other hand, show no consensus on the sign of change, and none of the models shows a statistically significant strengthening over the same period. While the reasons for the inconsistency between models and observations is not fully understood, it is shown that the ability of the models to generate trends as large as the observed from internal variability is reduced because most models have weaker than observed levels of both multidecadal variability and persistence of interannual variability in WC strength. In the twenty-first-century future projections, the WC weakens in 25 out of 35 models, under representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5, 9 out of 11 models under RCP6.0, 16 out of 18 models under RCP4.5, and 12 out of 15 models under RCP2.6. The projected decrease is also consistent with results obtained previously using models from CMIP3. However, as the reasons for the inconsistency between modeled and observed trends in the last three decades are not fully understood, confidence in the model projections is reduced.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2021 05:14
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2021 00:24
Uncontrolled Keywords: meteorology; atmospheric properties; applied mathematics; fluidex; weather and climate forecasting; climate; climate change; climate variability; Coupled Model Intercomparison Project; decadal variability; eastern equatorial Pacific; interannual variability; internal variability; multidecadal variability; pressure differences
Fields of Research (2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040104 Climate Change Processes
Fields of Research (2020): 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3702 Climate change science > 370201 Climate change processes
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960310 Global Effects of Climate Change and Variability (excl. Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific) ""
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960309 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on the South Pacific (excl. Australia and New Zealand) (excl. Social Impacts)
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1905 Understanding climate change > 190502 Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00752.1
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/42424

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