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CR 27:197-209 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/cr027197

Internal variability in Arctic regional climate simulations: case study for the SHEBA year

Annette Rinke1,*, Philippe Marbaix2, Klaus Dethloff1

1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
2Institut d’Astronomie et de Géophysique G. Lemaître, Université Catholique de Louvain, Chemin du Cyclotron 2, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

ABSTRACT: The sensitivity of a regional climate model (RCM) to lateral boundary forcing (by different numerical weather prediction analysis products and by various temperature perturbations) and to the initial conditions is evaluated for a pan-Arctic domain. The study focuses on seasonal simulations over the period of the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean project from October 1997 to September 1998. Small perturbations in the initial and/or lateral boundary conditions can make the model diverge from driving large-scale fields, and the extent to which this occurs depends on the control of the model by the lateral boundary forcing, not on the origin of the perturbation. The model response to a perturbation does not depend on the type of perturbation, and it is largely independent of the magnitude as well as of the source of the perturbation. Both small and large temperature perturbations have similar consequences for the monthly mean atmospheric patterns and the root mean square difference, but the model response depends on the season. Two regimes in the internal variability were found: (1) large variability in autumn/winter and (2) smaller variability in summer. The pronounced magnitude of internal variability must be taken into account in discussing the significance of climate change and climate sensitivity signals in Arctic RCMs.

KEY WORDS: Regional climate modeling · Internal variability · Arctic climate

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