Climate Dynamics

, Volume 10, Issue 1–2, pp 81–95 | Cite as

An investigation of climate drift in a coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea ice model

  • Andrew M Moore
  • Hal B Gordon


Climate drift is a common and serious problem in most state-of-the-art coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea ice models. We consider the nature of climate drift in such a model, and in particular address the question of whether or not climate drift is inherent to the model, or whether the drift can be averted by a suitable choice of initial conditions or coupling procedure. The “synchronous” approach to coupling was adopted in which the ocean, atmosphere and sea ice models were spun-up independently to equilibrium using climatological forcing fields. The models were then coupled and integrated forward in time. Several experiments were performed which were designed to assess the impact of different coupling methodologies and changes in the initial conditions of the component models on the climate drift of the system. The results of our experiments indicate that climate drift is a problem inherent to the coupled model in that systematic errors in the components lead to incompatibilities in the surface fluxes required by the component models to maintain realistic climatologies. We conclude that climate drift can be averted only if the parameterizations of certain important physical processes are improved which should have the effect of reducing or eliminating these incompatibilities.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bottomley M, Folland CK, Hsiung J, Newell RE, Parker DE (1990) Global ocean surface temperature atlas. A joint project of the UK Meteorological Office and MIT, Mass Inst Tech., Cambridge, USAGoogle Scholar
  2. Bryan K (1969) A numerical method for the study of the circulation of the world ocean. J Comput Phys 4:347–376Google Scholar
  3. Bryan K (1984) Accelerating the convergence to equilibrium of ocean-climate models. J Phys Oceanogr 14:666–673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bryan K, Lewis LJ (1979) A water mass model of the world ocean. J Geophys Res C5 84:2503–2517Google Scholar
  5. Chouinard C, Beland M, McFarlane N (1986) A simple gravity wave drag parameterization for use in medium-range weather forecast models. Atmos Ocean 24:91–110Google Scholar
  6. Cox MD (1984) A primitive equation 3-dimensional model of the ocean. GFDL Ocean Group Tech Rep 1, Princeton UniversityGoogle Scholar
  7. Deardorff JW (1977) A parameterization of ground-surface moisture content for use in atmospheric models. J Appl Meteorol 16:1182–1185Google Scholar
  8. Esbensen SK, Kushnir Y (1981) The heat budget of the global ocean: An atlas based on estimates from surface marine observations. Rep 29, Oregon State University Climatic Research Institute, Corvallis, USAGoogle Scholar
  9. Gates WL, Han Y-J, Schlesinger ME (1985) The global climate simulated by a coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model: preliminary results. In: Nihoul JCJ (ed), Coupled ocean-atmosphere models. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  10. Ghan AJ, Lingaas JW, Schlesinger ME, Mobley RL, Gates WL (1982) A documentation of the OSU two-level atmospheric general circulation model. Rep 35, Climatic Research Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USAGoogle Scholar
  11. Gleckler PJ, Taylor KE (1992) The effect of horizontal resolution on ocean surface heat fluxes in the ECMWF model. PCMDI Rep 3, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, USAGoogle Scholar
  12. Gordon HB (1981) A flux formulation of the spectral atmospheric equations suitable for use in long-term climate modeling. Mon Weather Rev 109:56–64Google Scholar
  13. Gordon HB (1993) A documentation of the CSIRO 4-level atmospheric model. CSIRO Tech Paper No. 28Google Scholar
  14. Gordon HB, Hunt BG (1993) Climate variability within an equilibrium greenhouse simulation. Clim Dyn (in press)Google Scholar
  15. Hellerman S, Rosenstein M (1983) Normal monthly windstress over the world ocean with error estimates. J Phys Oceanogr 13:1093–1104Google Scholar
  16. Hunt BG, Gordon HB (1988) The problem of “naturally” occurring drought. Clim Dyn 3:19–33Google Scholar
  17. Hunt BG, Gordon HB (1991) Simulations of the US drought of 1988. Int J Climatol 11:629–644Google Scholar
  18. Levitus S (1982) Climatological atlas of the world ocean. NOAA Prof Pap 13, US Government Printing OfficeGoogle Scholar
  19. McGregor JL, Gordon HB, Watterson IG, Dix MR, Rotstayn LD (1993) The CSIRO 9-level atmospheric global circulation model. CSIRO Tech Paper No. 26Google Scholar
  20. Manabe S, Bryan K, Spelman MJ (1979) A global ocean-atmosphere climate model with seasonal variation for future studies f climate sensitivity. Dyn Atmos Oceans 3:393–426Google Scholar
  21. Manabe S, Stouffer RJ, Spelman MJ, Bryan K (1991) Transient responses of a coupled ocean-atmosphere model to gradual changes in atmospheric CO2 Part 1: annual mean response. J Clint 4:785–818Google Scholar
  22. Meehl GA (1990) Development of global coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation models. Clim Dyn 5:19–33Google Scholar
  23. Moore AM, Reason CJC (1993) The response of a global ocean general circulation model to climatological surface boundary conditions for temperature and salinity. J Phys Oceanogr 23:300–328Google Scholar
  24. Oberhuber JM (1988) An atlas based on the COADS data set: the budgets of heat, bouyancy and turbulent kinetic energy at the surface of the global ocean. Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie Rep 15, Hamburg, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  25. Parkinson C, Washington WM (1979) A large-scale numerical model of sea-ice. J Geophys Res 84:311–337Google Scholar
  26. Sausen R, Lunkeit F (1990) Some remarks of the cause of climate drift of coupled ocean-atmosphere models. Beitr Phys Atmos 63:141–146Google Scholar
  27. Sausen R, Barthel K, Hasselmann K (1988) Coupled ocean-atmosphere models with flux correction. Clim Dyn 2:145–163Google Scholar
  28. Schutz C, Gates WL (1971) Global climate data for surface, 800 mb, 400 mb: January. R-915-ARPA, The Rand Corporation, Santa MonicaGoogle Scholar
  29. Smith IN, Gordon HB (1992) Simulations of precipitation and atmospheric circulation changes associated with warm SSTs: results from an ensemble of long term integrations with idealized anomalies. Clim Dyn 7:141–153Google Scholar
  30. Trenberth KE, Olson JG, Large WG (1989) A global ocean wind stress climatology based on ECMWF analyses. NCAR Techn Note TN-338, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  31. Washington WM, Meehl GA (1989) Climate sensitivity due to increased CO2: experiments with a coupled atmosphere and ocean general circulation model. Climate Dyn 4:1–38Google Scholar
  32. Washington WM, Semtner AJ, Meehl GA, Knight DJ, Mayer TA (1980) A general circulation experiment with a coupled atmosphere, ocean and sea ice model. J Phys Oceanogr 10:1887–1908Google Scholar
  33. Woods JD (1985) The physics of thermocline ventilation. Coupled ocean-atmosphere models. In: Nihoul JCJ (ed) Coupled Ocean-atmosphere models. Elsevier Oceanography Series, 40, Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew M Moore
    • 1
  • Hal B Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIRO Division of Atmospheric ResearchMordiallocAustralia

Personalised recommendations