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Low-frequency variability of the Pacific Subtropical Cells as reproduced by coupled models and ocean reanalyses

Graffino, G. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8264-3250, Farneti, R. and Kucharski, F. (2021) Low-frequency variability of the Pacific Subtropical Cells as reproduced by coupled models and ocean reanalyses. Climate Dynamics. ISSN 0930-7575

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00382-021-05639-6

Abstract/Summary

Low-frequency variability of the Pacific Subtropical Cells (STCs) is investigated using outputs from several models included in the two latest phases of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), CMIP5 and CMIP6, as well as ocean reanalysis products. Our analysis focuses on historical simulations and an idealised future scenario integration. Mass and heat transport diagnostics are employed to assess how coupled models and ocean reanalyses reproduce Pacific STCs total and interior transport convergence at the equator and their relationship with equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature (SST). Trends of mass and heat transport are also evaluated, in order to study how the STCs are expected to change in a warming climate. A large spread is obtained across models in simulated mass transports, confirming that coupled models do not agree on reproducing observed Pacific STCs dynamics, with very limited improvement by CMIP6 models. Compared to ocean reanalysis products, coupled models tend to underestimate the STCs interior transport convergence, and are less efficient on propagating the signal generated by the subtropical wind stress towards the equator. Also, mass transport obtained from ocean reanalyses exhibit larger variability, and these products also better reproduce the STCs-SST relationship. Future scenario simulations suggest a weakening (strengthening) of the heat transport by the North (South) Pacific cell under warmer conditions, with a general agreement across models. Equatorward mass transport trends do not confirm this for total and interior components, but they do for the western boundary component.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:95758
Publisher:Springer Nature

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