An investigation of tropical Atlantic bias in a high-resolution coupled regional climate model Academic Article uri icon


  • Coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) commonly fail to simulate the eastern equatorial Atlantic boreal summer cold tongue and produce a westerly equatorial trade wind bias. This tropical Atlantic bias problem is investigated with a high-resolution (27-km atmosphere represented by the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, 9-km ocean represented by the Regional Ocean Modeling System) coupled regional climate model. Uncoupled atmospheric simulations test climate sensitivity to cumulus, land-surface, planetary boundary layer, microphysics, and radiation parameterizations and reveal that the radiation scheme has a pronounced impact in the tropical Atlantic. The CAM radiation simulates a dry precipitation (up to -90%) and cold land-surface temperature (up to -8 K) bias over the Amazon related to an over-representation of low-level clouds and almost basin-wide westerly trade wind bias. The Rapid Radiative Transfer Model and Goddard radiation simulates doubled Amazon and Congo Basin precipitation rates and a weak eastern Atlantic trade wind bias. Season-long high-resolution coupled regional model experiments indicate that the initiation of the warm eastern equatorial Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) bias is more sensitive to the local rather than basin-wide trade wind bias and to a wet Congo Basin instead of dry Amazon-which differs from AOGCM simulations. Comparisons between coupled and uncoupled simulations suggest a regional Bjerknes feedback confined to the eastern equatorial Atlantic amplifies the initial SST, wind, and deepened thermocline bias, while barrier layer feedbacks are relatively unimportant. The SST bias in some CRCM simulations resembles the typical AOGCM bias indicating that increasing resolution is unlikely a simple solution to this problem. 2012 Springer-Verlag.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Patricola, C. M., Li, M., Xu, Z., Chang, P., Saravanan, R., & Hsieh, J.

complete list of authors

  • Patricola, Christina M||Li, Mingkui||Xu, Zhao||Chang, Ping||Saravanan, R||Hsieh, Jen-Shan

publication date

  • January 1, 2012 11:11 AM