Climate Dynamics

, Volume 44, Issue 9–10, pp 2333–2349 | Cite as

Effect of surface restoring on subsurface variability in a climate model during 1949–2005

  • Sulagna Ray
  • Didier Swingedouw
  • Juliette Mignot
  • Eric Guilyardi


Initializing the ocean for decadal predictability studies is a challenge, as it requires reconstructing the little observed subsurface trajectory of ocean variability. In this study we explore to what extent surface nudging using well-observed sea surface temperature (SST) can reconstruct the deeper ocean variations for the 1949–2005 period. An ensemble made with a nudged version of the IPSLCM5A model and compared to ocean reanalyses and reconstructed datasets. The SST is restored to observations using a physically-based relaxation coefficient, in contrast to earlier studies, which use a much larger value. The assessment is restricted to the regions where the ocean reanalyses agree, i.e. in the upper 500 m of the ocean, although this can be latitude and basin dependent. Significant reconstruction of the subsurface is achieved in specific regions, namely region of subduction in the subtropical Atlantic, below the thermocline in the equatorial Pacific and, in some cases, in the North Atlantic deep convection regions. Beyond the mean correlations, ocean integrals are used to explore the time evolution of the correlation over 20-year windows. Classical fixed depth heat content diagnostics do not exhibit any significant reconstruction between the different existing observation-based references and can therefore not be used to assess global average time-varying correlations in the nudged simulations. Using the physically based average temperature above an isotherm (14 °C) alleviates this issue in the tropics and subtropics and shows significant reconstruction of these quantities in the nudged simulations for several decades. This skill is attributed to the wind stress reconstruction in the tropics, as already demonstrated in a perfect model study using the same model. Thus, we also show here the robustness of this result in an historical and observational context.


Decadal climate prediction Initial conditions Subsurface reconstruction Surface nudging 



We acknowledge Jerome Servonnat for helpful discussions, Marie-Alice Foujols and Sébastien Denvil for help with the model and data handling. This study was partly funded by the EPIDOM project (GICC), by the EU project SPECS funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Research Programme under the Grant agreement 308378 and by the MORDICUS Project funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche under Grant agreement ANR-13-SENV-0002-02. Computations were carried out at the CCRT supercomputing centre. We would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions in the revision of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sulagna Ray
    • 1
  • Didier Swingedouw
    • 2
  • Juliette Mignot
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Eric Guilyardi
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.LOCEAN/IPSLSorbonne Universités, UPMC-CNRS-IRD-MNHNParis Cedex 05France
  2. 2.EPOCCNRS-University of BordeauxPessacFrance
  3. 3.Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics InstituteUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  4. 4.Oeschger Centre of Climate Change ResearchUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  5. 5.NCAS-ClimateUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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