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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2020-245
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2020-245
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: model evaluation paper 28 Oct 2020

Submitted as: model evaluation paper | 28 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Evaluation and climate sensitivity of the PlaSim v.17 Earth System Model coupled with ocean model components of different complexity

Michela Angeloni1,2, Elisa Palazzi2, and Jost von Hardenberg3,2 Michela Angeloni et al.
  • 1Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Bologna, Italy
  • 2Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council (ISAC-CNR), Torino, Italy
  • 3Politecnico di Torino, Department of Environment, Land and Infrastructure Engineering, Torino, Italy

Abstract. A set of experiments is performed with coupled atmosphere-ocean configurations of the Planet Simulator, an Earth-system Model of Intermediate Complexity (EMIC), in order to identify under which set of parameters the model output better agrees with observations and reanalyses of the present climate. Different model configurations are explored, in which the atmospheric module of PlaSim is coupled with two possible ocean models, either a simple mixed-layer (ML) ocean with a diffusive transport parameterization or a more complex dynamical Large-Scale Geostrophic (LSG) ocean, together with a sea-ice module. In order to achieve a more realistic representation of present-day climate, we performed a preliminary tuning of the oceanic horizontal diffusion coefficient for the ML ocean and of the vertical oceanic diffusion profile when using LSG. Model runs under present-day conditions are compared, in terms of surface air temperature, sea surface temperature, sea ice cover, precipitation, radiation fluxes, ocean circulation, with a reference climate from observations and reanalyses. Our results indicate that, in all configurations, coupled PlaSim configurations are able to reproduce the main characteristics of the climate system, with the exception of the Southern Ocean region in the PlaSim-LSG model, where surface air and sea surface temperatures are warm-biased and sea ice cover is by consequence highly underestimated.

The resulting sets of tuned parameters are used to perform a series of model equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) experiments, with the aim to identify the main mechanisms contributing to differences between the different configurations and leading to elevated values of ECS. In fact, high resulting global ECS values are found, positioned in the upper range of CMIP5 and recent CMIP6 estimates. Our analysis shows that a significant contribution to ECS is given by the sea-ice feedback mechanisms and by details of the parameterization of meridional oceanic heat transport. In particular, the configurations using a diffusive heat transport in the mixed layer present an important sensitivity in terms of radiative forcing to changes in sea-ice cover, leading to an important contribution of sea-ice feedback mechanisms to ECS.

Michela Angeloni et al.

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Michela Angeloni et al.

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Short summary
We compare the Planet Simulator, an Earth-system Model of Intermediate Complexity, using a 3D dynamical ocean, with two configurations using a simpler mixed-layer ocean. A tuning of oceanic parameters allows a reasonable mean climate in all cases. Model equilibrium climate sensitivity in abrupt CO2 concentration change experiments is found to be significantly affected by the sea-ice feedbacks and by the parameterization of meridional oceanic heat transport in the mixed-layer configurations.
We compare the Planet Simulator, an Earth-system Model of Intermediate Complexity, using a 3D...
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