Simulating weather regimes: impact of model resolution and stochastic parameterization
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- Dawson, A. & Palmer, T.N. Clim Dyn (2015) 44: 2177. doi:10.1007/s00382-014-2238-x
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The simulation of quasi-persistent regime structures in an atmospheric model with horizontal resolution typical of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fifth assessment report simulations, is shown to be unrealistic. A higher resolution configuration of the same model, with horizontal resolution typical of that used in operational numerical weather prediction, is able to simulate these regime structures realistically. The spatial patterns of the simulated regimes are remarkably accurate at high resolution. A model configuration at intermediate resolution shows a marked improvement over the low-resolution configuration, particularly in terms of the temporal characteristics of the regimes, but does not produce a simulation as accurate as the very-high-resolution configuration. It is demonstrated that the simulation of regimes can be significantly improved, even at low resolution, by the introduction of a stochastic physics scheme. At low resolution the stochastic physics scheme drastically improves both the spatial and temporal aspects of the regimes simulation. These results highlight the importance of small-scale processes on large-scale climate variability, and indicate that although simulating variability at small scales is a necessity, it may not be necessary to represent the small-scales accurately, or even explicitly, in order to improve the simulation of large-scale climate. It is argued that these results could have important implications for improving both global climate simulations, and the ability of high-resolution limited-area models, forced by low-resolution global models, to reliably simulate regional climate change signals.