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The Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, its variability, and its impacts on global climate in the AR4 global climate models

PI: Vikram Mehta
Institution: Center for Research on the Changing Earth System
Additional Investigators: Robert Iacovazzi, Jr., Boyin Huang, Thomas Delworth, Amita Mehta
Abstract:
The Indo-Pacific Warm Pool (IPWP) consists of the warmest and freshest surface ocean water on the Earth. The annual-average SST in the IPWP is greater than or equal to 28°C from approximately 90°E-180°, 20°S-20°N; the IPWP SST and spatial structure have pronounced annual cycles. As a consequence of the warm ocean water in the IPWP, atmospheric convection, rainfall, and the resultant latent heat release into the atmosphere make the IPWP the largest heat source for global atmospheric circulations. Since variability of this heat source can cause significant global climate variability, it is very important to quantify and understand the IPWP’s variability. The IPWP is known to vary at intraseasonal to multidecadal and longer timescales, including a multidecades-long warming trend in the last few decades of the 20th century.

Based on the investigators’ experience of analyzing the IPWP variability and its impacts on global climate in remotely-sensed and model-assimilated observations, and of analyzing long climate simulations of four global coupled models (GFDL R30, PCM, CSIRO, and CCCma) participating in the WCRP’s CMIP2+ project, the objectives of the proposed research are,
to analyze output from the AR4 models to quantify variability of the IPWP ocean-atmosphere system and the associated global climate variability during the 20th and 21th centuries; and
to compare the IPWP variability with estimates based on in situ and model-assimilated observations.

The following is a list of some of the AR4 model output parameters needed for this project.
Ocean: Temperature, salinity, and velocity from the surface to at least 200m depth; upper-ocean heat content (if available); depth of the 20C isotherm (if available)
Ocean-atmosphere fluxes: Momentum, heat, and freshwater; long-wave and short-wave radiation components
Atmosphere: Surface pressure; winds, temperature, and geopotential height; precipitation (total, convective, stratiform); vertical velocity (if available); convection-related heating
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