National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1990

Simulation of ENSO related surface wind anomalies with an atmospheric GCM forced by observed SST

Latif, M., J. Biercamp, H. von Storch, M.J. McPhaden, and E. Kirk

J. Climate, 3(5), 509–521, doi: 10.1175/1520-0442(1990)003<0509:SOERSW>2 (1990)

The ECMWF-T21 atmospheric GCM is forced by observed near-global SST from January 1970 to December 1985. Its response in low level winds and surface wind stress over the Pacific Ocean is compared with various observations. The time dependent SST clearly induces a Southern Oscillation (SO) in the model run which is apparent in the time series of all variables considered. The phase of the GCM SO is as observed, but its low frequency variance is too weak and is mainly confined to the western Pacific. Because of the GCM's use as the atmospheric component in a coupled ocean-atmosphere model, the response of an equatorial oceanic primitive equation model to both the modeled and observed wind stress is examined. The ocean model responds to the full observed wind stress forcing in a manner almost identical to that when it is forced by the first two low frequency EOFs of the observations only. These first two EOFs describe a regular eastward propagation of the SO signal from the western Pacific to the central Pacific within about a year. The ocean model's response to the modeled wind stress is too weak and similar to the response when the observed forcing is truncated to the first EOF only. In other words, the observed SO appears as a sequence of propagating patterns but the simulated SO as a standing oscillation. The nature of the deviation of the simulated wind stress from observations is analyzed by means of Model Output Statistics (MOS). It is shown that a MOS-corrected simulated wind stress, if used to force an ocean GCM, leads to a significant enhancement of low frequency SST variance, which is most pronounced in the western Pacific.

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