J. Li, F. Pollinger, W. A. Müller, H. Pohlmann, H. Feldmann, H.-J. Panitz
Initialized decadal climate predictions with coupled climate models are often marked by substantial climate drifts that emanate from a mismatch between the climatology of the coupled model system and the data set used for initialization. While such drifts may be easily removed from the prediction system when analyzing individual variables, a major problem prevails for multivariate issues and, especially, when the output of the global prediction system shall be used for dynamical downscaling. In this study, we present a statistical approach to remove climate drifts in a multivariate context and demonstrate the effect of this drift correction on regional climate model simulations over the Euro-Atlantic sector. The statistical approach is based on an empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis adapted to a very large data matrix. The climate drift emerges as a dramatic cooling trend in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and is captured by the leading EOF of the multivariate output from the global prediction system, accounting for 7.7% of total variability. The SST cooling pattern also imposes drifts in various atmospheric variables and levels. The removal of the first EOF effectuates the drift correction while retaining other components of intra-annual, inter-annual and decadal variability. In the regional climate model, the multivariate drift correction of the input data removes the cooling trends in most western European land regions and systematically reduces the discrepancy between the output of the regional climate model and observational data. In contrast, removing the drift only in the SST field from the global model has hardly any positive effect on the regional climate model.