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An energy conservation analysis of ocean drift in the CMIP5 global coupled models


Hobbs, W and Palmer, MD and Monselesan, D, An energy conservation analysis of ocean drift in the CMIP5 global coupled models, Journal of Climate, 29, (5) pp. 1639-1653. ISSN 0894-8755 (2016) [Refereed Article]


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DOI: doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0477.1


Climate model simulations of changes to the Earth’s energy budget are fundamental to improving our understanding of both historical and future climate change. However, coupled models are prone to ‘drift’ i.e. spurious unforced trends in state variables, due to incomplete spin-up or non-closure of the energy budget. In this work we assess the globally integrated energy budgets of 25 models in the CMIP5 suite. We show that for many of the models there is a significant disagreement between ocean heat content changes and net top-of-atmosphere radiation. The disagreement is largely time-constant and independent of forcing scenario. Furthermore, the most of the non-conservation seems to occur as a result of energy leaks external to the ocean model realm. After drift correction, the time varying-energy budget is consistent at decadal time scales, and model responses to climate forcing are not sensitive to the magnitude of their drift. This demonstrates that although drift terms can be significant, model output can be corrected post-hoc without biasing results.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:circulation/dynamics, conservation equations, physical meteorology and climatology, budgets, climate sensitivity, models and modeling, climate models, model comparison, model evaluation/performance, global energy balance
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate change models
UTAS Author:Hobbs, W (Dr Will Hobbs)
ID Code:106478
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:46
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2016-02-11
Last Modified:2017-10-31
Downloads:168 View Download Statistics

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