Southern annular mode dynamics in observations and models, Part II: Eddy feedbacks
Simpson, I. R., Shepherd, T. G., Hitchcock, P. and Scinocca, J. F. (2013) Southern annular mode dynamics in observations and models, Part II: Eddy feedbacks. Journal of Climate, 26 (14). pp. 5220-5241. ISSN 1520-0442
To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00495.1
Many global climate models (GCMs) have trouble simulating Southern Annular Mode (SAM) variability correctly, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere summer season where it tends to be too persistent. In this two part study, a suite of experiments with the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model (CMAM) is analyzed to improve our understanding of the dynamics of SAM variability and its deficiencies in GCMs. Here, an examination of the eddy-mean flow feedbacks is presented by quantification of the feedback strength as a function of zonal scale and season using a new methodology that accounts for intraseasonal forcing of the SAM. In the observed atmosphere, in the summer season, a strong negative feedback by planetary scale waves, in particular zonal wavenumber 3, is found in a localized region in the south west Pacific. It cancels a large proportion of the positive feedback by synoptic and smaller scale eddies in the zonal mean, resulting in a very weak overall eddy feedback on the SAM. CMAM is deficient in this negative feedback by planetary scale waves, making a substantial contribution to its bias in summertime SAM persistence. Furthermore, this bias is not alleviated by artificially improving the climatological circulation, suggesting that climatological circulation biases are not the cause of the planetary wave feedback deficiency in the model. Analysis of the summertime eddy feedbacks in the CMIP-5 models confirms that this is indeed a common problem among GCMs, suggesting that understanding this planetary wave feedback and the reason for its deficiency in GCMs is key to improving the fidelity of simulated SAM variability in the summer season.