A Pilot Climate Sensitivity Study Using the CEN Coupled Adjoint Model (CESAM)

2018 - Journal of Climate


D. Stammer

Additional authors:

A. Köhl, A. Vlasenko, I. Matei, F. Lunkeit, and S. Schubert




A pilot coupled climate sensitivity study is presented based on the newly developed adjoint coupled climate model, Centrum für Erdsystemforschung und Nachhaltigkeit (CEN) Earth System Assimilation Model (CESAM). To this end the components of the coupled forward model are summarized, and the generation of the adjoint code out of the model forward code through the application of the Transformation of Algorithms in FORTRAN (TAF) adjoint compiler is discussed. It is shown that simulations of the intermediate-complexity CESAM are comparable in quality to CMIP-type coupled climate models, justifying the usage of the model to compute adjoint sensitivities of the northern Europe near-surface temperature to anomalies in surface temperature, sea surface salinity, and sea ice over the North Atlantic and the Arctic on time scales of up to one month. Results confirm that on a time scale of up to a few days surface temperatures over northern Europe are influenced by Atlantic temperature anomalies just upstream of the target location. With increasingly longer time lapse, however, it is the influence of SSTs over the central and western North Atlantic on the overlying atmosphere and the associated changes in storm-track pattern that dominate the evolution of the surface European temperature. Influences of surface salinity and sea ice on the northern European temperature appear to have similar sensitivity mechanisms, invoked indirectly through their influence on near-surface temperature anomalies. The adjoint study thus confirms that the SST’s impact on the atmospheric dynamics, notably storm tracks, is the primary cause for the influence of northern European temperature changes.