Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-163
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-163

  29 Nov 2021

29 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Calendar effects on surface air temperature and precipitation based on model-ensemble equilibrium and transient simulations from PMIP4 and PACMEDY

Xiaoxu Shi1, Martin Werner1, Carolin Krug1,2, Chris M. Brierley3, Anni Zhao3, Endurance Igbinosa1,2, Pascale Braconnot4, Esther Brady5, Jian Cao6, Roberta D'Agostino7, Johann Jungclaus7, Xingxing Liu8, Bette Otto-Bliesner5, Dmitry Sidorenko1, Robert Tomas5, Evgeny M. Volodin9, Hu Yang1, Qiong Zhang10, Weipeng Zheng11, and Gerrit Lohmann1,2 Xiaoxu Shi et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2Bremen University, Bremen, Germany
  • 3Dept. of Geography, University College London, London, UK
  • 4Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement-IPSL, Unité Mixte CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, Orme des Merisiers, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 5Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO 80305, USA
  • 6School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing, 210044, China
  • 7Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 8State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an, 710061, China
  • 9Marchuk Institute of Numerical Mathematics, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Gubkina 8, Moscow, 119333, Russia
  • 10Department of Physical Geography and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 10691, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 11LASG, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China

Abstract. Numerical modelling enables a comprehensive understanding not only of the Earth's system today, but also of the past. To date, a significant amount of time and effort has been devoted to paleoclimate modeling and analysis, which involves the latest and most advanced Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project phase 4 (PMIP4). The definition of seasonality, which is influenced by slow variations in the Earth's orbital parameters, plays a key role in determining the calculated seasonal cycle of the climate. In contrast to the classical calendar used today, where the lengths of the months and seasons are fixed, the angular calendar calculates the lengths of the months and seasons according to a fixed number of degrees along the Earth's orbit. When comparing simulation results for different time intervals, it is essential to account for the angular calendar to ensure that the data for comparison is from the same position along the Earth's orbit. Most models use the classical "fixed-length" calendar, which can lead to strong distortions of the monthly and seasonal values, especially for the climate of the past. Here, by analyzing daily outputs from multiple PMIP4 model simulations, we examine calendar effects on surface air temperature and precipitation under mid-Holocene, last interglacial, and pre-industrial climate conditions. We conclude that: (a) The largest cooling bias occurs in autumn when the classical calendar is applied for the mid-Holocene and last interglacial. (b) The sign of the temperature anomalies between the Last Interglacial and pre-industrial in boreal autumn can be reversed after the switch from classical to angular calendar, particularly over the Northern Hemisphere continents. (c) Precipitation over West Africa is overestimated in boreal summer and underestimated in boreal autumn when the "fixed-length" seasonal cycle is applied. (d) Finally, correcting the calendar based on the monthly model results can reduce the biases to a large extent, but not completely eliminate them. In addition, we examine the calendar effects in 3 transient simulations for 6–0 ka by AWI-ESM, MPI-ESM, and IPSL. We find significant discrepancies between adjusted and unadjusted temperature values over ice-free continents for both hemispheres in boreal autumn. While for other seasons the deviations are relatively small. A drying bias can be found in the summer monsoon precipitation in Africa (in the "fixed-length" calendar), whereby the magnitude of bias becomes smaller over time. Overall, our study underlines the importance of the application of calendar transformation in the analysis of climate simulations. Neglecting the calendar effects could lead to a profound artificial distortion of the calculated seasonal cycle of surface air temperature and precipitation. One important fact to be noted here is that the discrepancy in seasonality under different calendars is an analysis bias and is highly depends on the choice of the reference position/date (usually the vernal equinox, which is set to 31th March) on the Earth's ellipse around the sun. Different model groups may apply different reference dates, so ensuring a consistent reference date and seasonal definition is key when we compare results across multiple models.

Xiaoxu Shi et al.

Status: open (until 24 Jan 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-163', Pepijn Bakker, 07 Dec 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on cp-2021-163', Anonymous Referee #2, 04 Jan 2022 reply
  • RC3: 'Comment on cp-2021-163', Anonymous Referee #3, 05 Jan 2022 reply

Xiaoxu Shi et al.

Xiaoxu Shi et al.

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Short summary
Since the orbital parameters of the past are different from today, applying the modern calendar to seasonal cycles of the past climate can lead to significant bias. With the use of multiple model outputs, we found that such bias is significant and should be corrected to ensure an accurate comparison between modeled results and observational records, as well as between simulated past and modern climates, especially for the last interglacial time period.