Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2020-333
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2020-333

Submitted as: model evaluation paper 03 Nov 2020

Submitted as: model evaluation paper | 03 Nov 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Evaluating the physical and biogeochemical state of the global ocean component of UKESM1 in CMIP6 Historical simulations

Andrew Yool1, Julien Palmiéri1, Colin G. Jones2, Lee de Mora3, Till Kuhlbrodt4, Ekatarina E. Popova1, A. J. George Nurser1, Joel Hirschi1, Adam T. Blaker1, Andrew C. Coward1, Edward W. Blockley5, and Alistair A. Sellar5 Andrew Yool et al.
  • 1National Oceanography Centre, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
  • 2National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
  • 3Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK
  • 4National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 6BB, UK
  • 5Met Office, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon EX1 3PB, UK

Abstract. The ocean plays a key role in modulating the climate of the Earth system (ES). At the present time it is also a major sink both for the carbon dioxide (CO2) released by human activities as well as for the excess heat driven by the resulting atmospheric greenhouse effect. Understanding the ocean's role in these processes is critical for model projections of future change and its potential impacts on human societies. A necessary first step in assessing the credibility of such future projections is an evaluation of their performance against the present state of the ocean. Here we use a range of observational properties to validate the physical and biogeochemical performance of the ocean component of UKESM1, a new Earth system (ESM) for CMIP6 built upon the HadGEM3 physical climate model. Analysis focuses on the realism of the ocean's physical state and circulation, its key elemental cycles, and its marine productivity. UKESM1 generally performs well across a broad spectrum of properties, but it exhibits a number of notable biases. Physically, these include a global warm bias inherited from model spin-up, excess northern sea-ice but insufficient southern sea-ice, and sluggish interior circulation. Biogeochemical biases found include shallow remineralisation of sinking organic matter, excessive iron stress in regions such as the Equatorial Pacific, and generally lower surface alkalinity that results in decreased surface and interior dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations. The mechanisms driving these biases are explored to identify consequences for the behaviour of UKESM1 under future climate scenarios, and avenues for model improvement. Finally, across key biogeochemical properties, UKESM1 improves in performance relative to its CMIP5 precursor, and compares favourably to fellow members of the CMIP6 ensemble.

Andrew Yool et al.

 
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Andrew Yool et al.

Model code and software

Supplementary material for manuscript: "Evaluating the physical and biogeochemical state of the global ocean component of UKESM1 in CMIP6 Historical simulation" A. Yool https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4155210

Andrew Yool et al.

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Short summary
The ocean plays a key role in modulating the Earth’s climate. Understanding this role is critical when using models to project future change. Consequently, it is necessary to evaluate their realism against the observed state of the ocean. Here we validate UKESM1, a new Earth system model, focusing on the realism of its ocean physics and circulation, as well as its biological cycles and productivity. While we identify biases, generally the model performs well over a wide range of properties.