Climate Dynamics

, Volume 47, Issue 12, pp 3783–3801 | Cite as

North Pacific decadal variability in the CMIP5 last millennium simulations

  • Laura E. Fleming
  • Kevin J. AnchukaitisEmail author


The Pacific ocean–atmosphere system exerts an important influence on the climate of Asia and North America, but the limited length of the observational record prevents a complete understanding of its bidecadal and multidecadal time scales. Paleoclimate reconstructions provide one source of information on longer time scales, although they differ in their estimation of the behavior of the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) prior to the instrumental period. Forced general circulation model simulations offer complementary long-term perspectives on both the history and dynamics of this important mode of variability. Here, we analyze the PDO in the ensemble of CMIP5/PMIP3 last millennium (past1000 + historical) simulations. We evaluate the modeled spatial, temporal, and spectral characteristics of this mode, as well as teleconnections between North Pacific variability and global climate. All models produce a mode of North Pacific variability over the last millennium with spatial patterns and spectral power density similar to observations. CCSM, FGOALS, and IPSL best reproduce observed spatial patterns, spectral characteristics, and teleconnections to terrestrial regions used in paleoclimate proxy reconstructions. In these simulations, the PDO shows no consistent response to solar or volcanic forcing.


Decadal Pacific PDO General circulation models CMIP5 Last millennium  



We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modeling groups (listed in Table 1 of this paper) for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP the U.S. Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. This research was funded by a grant for the US National Science Foundation (AGS-1159430). LEF participated in this research as part of Northeastern University’s Co-op and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Guest Student program.

Supplementary material

382_2016_3041_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 5080 KB)


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology and GeophysicsWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  3. 3.School of Geography and Development and Laboratory of Tree Ring ResearchUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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