, Volume 40, Issue 9-10, pp 2091-2121,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 12 Jan 2012

The CNRM-CM5.1 global climate model: description and basic evaluation


A new version of the general circulation model CNRM-CM has been developed jointly by CNRM-GAME (Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques—Groupe d’études de l’Atmosphère Météorologique) and Cerfacs (Centre Européen de Recherche et de Formation Avancée) in order to contribute to phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). The purpose of the study is to describe its main features and to provide a preliminary assessment of its mean climatology. CNRM-CM5.1 includes the atmospheric model ARPEGE-Climat (v5.2), the ocean model NEMO (v3.2), the land surface scheme ISBA and the sea ice model GELATO (v5) coupled through the OASIS (v3) system. The main improvements since CMIP3 are the following. Horizontal resolution has been increased both in the atmosphere (from 2.8° to 1.4°) and in the ocean (from 2° to 1°). The dynamical core of the atmospheric component has been revised. A new radiation scheme has been introduced and the treatments of tropospheric and stratospheric aerosols have been improved. Particular care has been devoted to ensure mass/water conservation in the atmospheric component. The land surface scheme ISBA has been externalised from the atmospheric model through the SURFEX platform and includes new developments such as a parameterization of sub-grid hydrology, a new freezing scheme and a new bulk parameterisation for ocean surface fluxes. The ocean model is based on the state-of-the-art version of NEMO, which has greatly progressed since the OPA8.0 version used in the CMIP3 version of CNRM-CM. Finally, the coupling between the different components through OASIS has also received a particular attention to avoid energy loss and spurious drifts. These developments generally lead to a more realistic representation of the mean recent climate and to a reduction of drifts in a preindustrial integration. The large-scale dynamics is generally improved both in the atmosphere and in the ocean, and the bias in mean surface temperature is clearly reduced. However, some flaws remain such as significant precipitation and radiative biases in many regions, or a pronounced drift in three dimensional salinity.

This paper is a contribution to the special issue on the IPSL and CNRM global climate and Earth System Models, both developed in France and contributing to the 5th coupled model intercomparison project.