Representation of African Easterly Waves in CMIP5 Models

Monday, 18 April 2016: 11:30 AM
Miramar 1 & 2 (The Condado Hilton Plaza)
Elinor Martin, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and C. Thorncroft

African easterly waves (AEWs) can act as seed disturbances for tropical cyclones (TCs) in the Atlantic and changes in future AEW activity may have important consequences for development of TCs. The simulation of AEWs was investigated using output from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) suite of experiments including coupled historical and future simulations and atmosphere only (AMIP) simulations. Large biases exist in the simulation of low- (850 hPa) and mid-level (700 hPa) eddy kinetic energy (EKE, a proxy for AEW activity) in AMIP and historical simulations. CMIP5 models simulate excessive EKE and deficient rainfall south of 17N. The same biases exist in historical and AMIP models and are not a consequence of errors in sea surface temperatures. The models also struggle to accurately couple AEWs and rainfall, with little improvement from CMIP3 models. CMIP5 models are unable to propagate AEWs across the coast and into the Atlantic which is shown to be related to the resolution of the Guinea Highlands. Future projections of the annual cycle of AEW activity show a reduction in late spring and early summer and a large increase between July and October that is consistent with rainfall projections in the Sahel but large differences exists in future projections between high and low resolution models. The simulation of AEWs is challenging for CMIP5 models and must be further diagnosed in order to accurately predict future TC activity and rainfall in the Sahel.
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