Inter-model comparison of subseasonal tropical variability in aquaplanet experiments: Effect of a warm pool
This study compares the simulation of subseasonal tropical variability by a set of six state-of-the-art AGCMs in two experiments in aquaplanet configuration: a zonally symmetric experiment, and an experiment with a warm pool centered on the equator. In all six models, the presence of the warm pool generates zonal asymmetries in the simulated mean states in the form of a "Gill-type" response, made more complex by feedbacks between moisture, convective heating and circulation. Noticeable differences appear from one model to another. Only half the models simulate mean low-level equatorial westerlies over the warm pool area. The presence of the warm pool can also favor the development of large-scale variability consistent with observed Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) characteristics, but this happens only in half the models. Our results do not support the idea that the presence of the warm pool and/or of mean low-level equatorial westerlies are sufficient conditions for MJO-like variability to arise in the models. Comparing spectral characteristics of the simulated Convectively Coupled Equatorial Waves (CCEWs) in the aquaplanet experiments and the corresponding coupled atmosphere-ocean (i.e., CMIP) and atmosphere-only (i.e., AMIP) simulations, we also show that there is more consistency for a given model across its configurations, than for a given configuration across the six models. Overall, our results confirm that the simulation of subseasonal variability by given model is significantly influenced by the parameterization of subgrid physical processes (most-likely cloud processes), both directly and through modulation of the mean state.