Convectively coupled equatorial waves in high resolution Hadley centre climate models
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/2008JCLI2630.1
Current global atmospheric models fail to simulate well organised tropical phenomena in which convection interacts with dynamics and physics. A new methodology to identify convectively coupled equatorial waves, developed by NCAS-Climate, has been applied to output from the two latest models of the Met Office/Hadley Centre which have fundamental differences in dynamical formulation. Variability, horizontal and vertical structures, and propagation characteristics of tropical convection and equatorial waves, along with their coupled behaviour in the models are examined and evaluated against a previous comprehensive study of observations. It is shown that, in general, the models perform well for equatorial waves coupled with off-equatorial convection. However they perform poorly for waves coupled with equatorial convection. The vertical structure of the simulated wave is not conducive to energy conversion/growth and does not support the correct physical-dynamical coupling that occurs in the real world. The following figure shows an example of the Kelvin wave coupled with equatorial convection. It shows that the models fail to simulate a key feature of convectively coupled Kelvin wave in observations, namely near surface anomalous equatorial zonal winds together with intensified equatorial convection and westerly winds in phase with the convection. The models are also not able to capture the observed vertical tilt structure and the vertical propagation of the Kelvin wave into the lower stratosphere as well as the secondary peak in the mid-troposphere, particularly in HadAM3. These results can be used to provide a test-bed for experimentation to improve the coupling of physics and dynamics in climate and weather models.