89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Monday, 12 January 2009: 4:00 PM
UK-HiGEM: A new high resolution coupled climate model
Room 129A (Phoenix Convention Center)
Len Shaffrey, NCAS-Climate, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom; and P. L. Vidale and J. Slingo
HiGEM is a national UK programme in high resolution coupled climate modelling. This paper describes the development and evaluation of the UK's new high resolution global coupled model, HiGEM, which is based on the latest climate configuration of the Met Office Unified Model, HadGEM1. In HiGEM, the horizontal resolution has been increased to 1.25 x 0.83 degrees in longitude and latitude for the atmosphere, and 1/3 x 1/3 degrees globally for the ocean. Centennial length integrations of HiGEM are used to explore the impact of horizontal resolution on the fidelity of climate simulations.

Generally SST errors are reduced in HiGEM. Cold SST errors associated with the path of the North Atlantic drift improve, and warm SST errors are reduced in upwelling stratocumulus regions where the simulation of low level cloud is better at higher resolution. The ocean model in HiGEM allows ocean eddies to be partially resolved, which dramatically improves the representation of sea surface height variability. In the Southern Ocean, most of the heat transports in HiGEM is achieved by resolved eddy motions which replaces the parametrised eddy heat transport in the lower resolution model. HiGEM is also able to more realistically simulate small-scale features in the windstress curl around islands and oceanic SST fronts, which may have implications for oceanic upwelling and ocean biology.

Higher resolution in both the atmosphere and the ocean allows coupling to occur on small spatial scales. In particular the small scale interaction recently seen in satellite imagery between the atmosphere and Tropical instability waves in the Tropical Pacific ocean is realistically captured in HiGEM. Tropical instability waves play a role in improving the simulation of the mean state of the Tropical Pacific which has important implications for climate variability. In particular all aspects of the simulation of ENSO (spatial patterns, the timescales at which ENSO occurs, and global teleconnections) are much improved in HiGEM.

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