Climatic Change

, Volume 111, Issue 3–4, pp 903–922 | Cite as

Understanding and partitioning future climates for Australian regions from CMIP3 using ocean warming indices

  • Ian Geoffrey Watterson


The patterns of large-scale climate change over the 21st century simulated by 23 CMIP3 global climate models are analyzed to provide understanding of the range of projected temperature T and precipitation P changes for Australia published in 2007. Means of change, standardized by the global warming, within each of 11 regions are calculated for each model. Correlations between regions across the 23 models indicate that the changes are rather coherent across much of the mainland. The all-Australian average changes are also well correlated with a pattern of tropical sea surface temperatures. A Pacific-Indian Dipole index, representing this pattern, correlates strongly with Australian P. It also correlates well with variables in Southeast Asia. The global warming itself correlates well with Australian warming. These two indices of large-scale ocean warming are used to partition the 23 models into four representative future climates. For Australia overall, these can be described as much warmer and drier, much warmer, warmer and drier, and warmer. The four climates span much of the range of the earlier Australian projections over most of the continent. Further, they may be reproduced by a downscaling model forced with the SST anomalies. An assessment of the realism of the ocean pattern changes has the potential to reduce the uncertainty of projections, both for Australia and beyond.


Indian Ocean Global Warming Indian Ocean Dipole Southern Annular Mode CMIP3 Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work contributes to the Australian Climate Change Science Program. Much of this work was motivated and developed through discussions with Penny Whetton.

Supplementary material

10584_2011_166_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2 mb)
(PDF 2.03 MB)


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Copyright information

© UK Crown 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchAspendaleAustralia

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