Articles | Volume 4, issue 2
Model description paper
17 Jun 2011
Model description paper |  | 17 Jun 2011

The CSIRO Mk3L climate system model version 1.0 – Part 1: Description and evaluation

S. J. Phipps, L. D. Rotstayn, H. B. Gordon, J. L. Roberts, A. C. Hirst, and W. F. Budd

Abstract. The CSIRO Mk3L climate system model is a coupled general circulation model, designed primarily for millennial-scale climate simulations and palaeoclimate research. Mk3L includes components which describe the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice and land surface, and combines computational efficiency with a stable and realistic control climatology. This paper describes the model physics and software, analyses the control climatology, and evaluates the ability of the model to simulate the modern climate.

Mk3L incorporates a spectral atmospheric general circulation model, a z-coordinate ocean general circulation model, a dynamic-thermodynamic sea ice model and a land surface scheme with static vegetation. The source code is highly portable, and has no dependence upon proprietary software. The model distribution is freely available to the research community. A 1000-yr climate simulation can be completed in around one-and-a-half months on a typical desktop computer, with greater throughput being possible on high-performance computing facilities.

Mk3L produces realistic simulations of the larger-scale features of the modern climate, although with some biases on the regional scale. The model also produces reasonable representations of the leading modes of internal climate variability in both the tropics and extratropics. The control state of the model exhibits a high degree of stability, with only a weak cooling trend on millennial timescales. Ongoing development work aims to improve the model climatology and transform Mk3L into a comprehensive earth system model.