, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 479-500
Date: 23 Jan 2013

Modes of interannual variability of Southern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation in CMIP3 models: assessment and projections

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An assessment is made of the modes of interannual variability in the seasonal mean summer and winter Southern Hemisphere 500 hPa geopotential height in the twentieth century in models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) dataset. The analysis is done for both the intraseasonal and slow components of the geopotential height. When the CMIP3 models are assessed against reanalysis data, the spatial structure and variance of the leading modes in the intraseasonal component are generally well reproduced. There are systematic differences between the models in their reproduction of the leading modes in the slow component. An overall score using the leading modes in the slow component allows a categorisation of CMIP3 model performance. Using an ensemble from four models that suitably reproduce the twentieth century modes, modes of variability in the slow-internal and slow-external components are estimated. The leading mode of the slow-external component is shown to be related to observed changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. In this ensemble, there is little change in the leading modes in the intraseasonal component in the twenty-first century. Larger changes in variance, and subtle changes in regional-scale structure, are found for the leading modes in the slow-internal component. These are related to changes in the slowly varying dynamics of the Southern Annular Mode and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. By far the biggest change is in the leading mode of the slow-external component. The spatial structure becomes uniform in the twenty-first century, and the variance increases with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.