, Volume 41, Issue 7-8, pp 2179-2197

The South Pacific Convergence Zone in CMIP5 simulations of historical and future climate

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Abstract

The South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) is evaluated in historical simulations from 26 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) models, and compared with previous generation CMIP3 models. A subset of 24 CMIP5 models are able to simulate a distinct SPCZ in the December to February (DJF) austral summer, although the position of the SPCZ in these models is too zonal compared with observations. The spatial pattern of SPCZ precipitation is improved in CMIP5 models relative to CMIP3 models, although the spurious double ITCZ precipitation band in the eastern Pacific is intensified in many CMIP5 models. All CMIP5 models examined capture some interannual variability of SPCZ latitude, and 19 models simulate a realistic correlation with El Niño–Southern Oscillation. In simulations of the twenty-first century under the RCP8.5 emission scenario, no consistent shift in the mean position of the DJF SPCZ is identified. Several models simulate significant shifts northward, and a similar number of models simulate significant southward shifts. The majority of CMIP5 models simulate an increase in mean DJF SPCZ precipitation, and there is an intensification of the eastern Pacific double ITCZ precipitation band in many models. Most models simulate regions of increased precipitation in the western part of the SPCZ and near the equator, and regions of decreased precipitation at the eastern edge of the SPCZ. Decomposition of SPCZ precipitation changes into dynamic and thermodynamic components reveals predominantly increased precipitation due to thermodynamic changes, while dynamic changes lead to regions of both positive and negative precipitation anomalies.