Quantitative Characterization of Spurious Gibbs Waves in 45 CMIP5 Models

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Kerrie L Geil and Xubin Zeng, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States
Gibbs oscillations appear in global climate models when representing fields, such as orography, that contain discontinuities or sharp gradients. It has been known for decades that the oscillations are associated with the transformation of the truncated spectral representation of a field to physical space and that the oscillations can also be present in global models that do not use spectral methods. The spurious oscillations are potentially detrimental to model simulations (e.g., over ocean) and this work provides a quantitative characterization of the Gibbs oscillations that appear across the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) models.

An ocean transect running through the South Pacific High toward the Andes is used to characterize the oscillations in ten different variables. These oscillations are found to be stationary and hence are not caused by (physical) waves in the atmosphere. We quantify the oscillation amplitude using the root mean square difference (RMSD) between the transect of a variable and its running mean (rather than the constant mean across the transect). We also compute the RMSD to interannual variability (IAV) ratio, which provides a relative measure of the oscillation amplitude.

Of the variables examined, the largest RMSD values exist in the surface pressure field of spectral models, while the smallest RMSD values within the surface pressure field come from models that use finite difference (FD) techniques. Many spectral models have a surface pressure RMSD that is 2 to 15 times greater than IAV over the transect and an RMSD:IAV ratio greater than one for many other variables including surface temperature, incoming shortwave radiation at the surface, incoming longwave radiation at the surface, and total cloud fraction. In general, the FD models out-perform the spectral models, but not all the spectral models have large amplitude oscillations and there are a few FD models where the oscillations do appear. Finally, we present a brief comparison of the numerical methods of a select few models to better understand their Gibbs oscillations.