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Original Research Papers

An analysis of regional climate model performance over the tropical Americas. Part I: simulating seasonal variability of precipitation associated with ENSO forcing

Authors:

Etienne Tourigny ,

Université du Québec à Montréal, CRCMD Network, Montréal, CA; SMHI, Rossby Centre, SE-601 76, Norrköping, SE
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Colin G. Jones

Université du Québec à Montréal, CRCMD Network, Montréal, CA
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Abstract

Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies associated with El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) constitute a major source of predictability in the tropics. We evaluate the ability of a regional climate model (the Rossby Centre Atmospheric Model; RCA) to downscale SST and large-scale atmospheric anomalies associated with ENSO. RCA is configured over the tropical east Pacific and tropical Americas and runs for the period 1979–2005, using European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) lateral and surface boundary conditions. We study the ability of RCA to represent regional patterns of precipitation, with respect to both the climatology and interannual variability associated with ENSO. The latter is achieved by grouping the simulations into El Niño and La Niña composites and studying the delayed response of precipitation to SST forcing in four regions of Central and South America.

In this paper, we concentrate on seasonal mean timescales. We find that RCA accurately simulates the main features of the precipitation climatology over the four regions and also reproduces the majority of the documented regional responses to ENSO forcing. Furthermore, the model captures the variability in precipitation anomalies between different ENSO events. The model exhibits a wet bias over the northern Amazon and slightly overestimates the magnitude of ENSO anomalies over Central America.

How to Cite: Tourigny, E. and Jones, C.G., 2012. An analysis of regional climate model performance over the tropical Americas. Part I: simulating seasonal variability of precipitation associated with ENSO forcing. Tellus A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography, 61(3), pp.323–342. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0870.2008.00386.x
  Published on 01 Jan 2012
 Accepted on 28 Nov 2008            Submitted on 3 Apr 2008

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