Comparison between observed and model-simulated atmospheric circulation patterns associated with extreme temperature days over North America using CMIP5 historical simulations

Paul C. Loikith, Anthony J. Broccoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Circulation patterns associated with extreme temperature days over North America, as simulated by a suite of climate models, are compared with those obtained from observations. The authors analyze 17 coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models contributing to the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. Circulation patterns are defined as composites of anomalies in sea level pressure and 500-hPa geopotential height concurrent with days in the tails of temperature distribution. Several metrics used to systematically describe circulation patterns associated with extreme temperature days are applied to both the observed and model-simulated data. Additionally, self-organizing maps are employed as a means of comparing observed and model-simulated circulation patterns across the North American domain. In general, the multimodel ensemble resembles the observed patterns well, especially in areas removed from complex geographic features (e.g., mountains and coastlines). Individual model results vary; however, the majority of models capture the major features observed. The multimodel ensemble captures several key features, including regional variations in the strength and orientation of atmospheric circulation patterns associated with extreme temperatures, both near the surface and aloft, as well as variations with latitude and season. The results from this work suggest that these models can be used to comprehensively examine the role that changes in atmospheric circulation will play in projected changes in temperature extremes because of future anthropogenic climate warming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2063-2079
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

Keywords

  • Atmospheric circulation
  • Climate models
  • Dynamics
  • General circulation models
  • North America
  • Synoptic climatology

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