Learn how plants respond to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations

How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

Click to locate material archived on our website by topic

Wind Speeds over China: AR5 Climate Models vs. Real-World Data
Chen, L., Pryor, S.C. and Li, D. 2012. Assessing the performance of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR5 climate models in simulating and projecting wind speeds over China. Journal of Geophysical Research 117: 10.1029/2012JD017533.

The authors write that "several recent studies have reported declines in observed in situ near-surface wind speeds during the past 30-50 years over parts of North America (Klink, 1999; Pryor et al., 2009; Tuller, 2004), regions of Europe (Brazdil et al., 2009; Pirazzoli and Tomasin, 2003) and Australia (McVicar et al., 2008)," and they say that "prior analyses of in situ daily average wind speed data from China have also indicated recent declines (Fu et al., 2011; Jiang et al., 2010)." As for how well climate models have been able to simulate this phenomenon in the past, they report that when such was attempted by several of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 (CMIP3) generation of AOGCMs (atmosphere-ocean general circulation models), substantial bias in oceanic wind stress was found for several of them by Swart and Fyfe (2012), while "based on the performance of 19 AOGCMs against reanalysis winds during 1981-2000," they note that "McInnes et al. (2011) found the multi-model ensemble to exhibit low skill over land areas."

What was done
In an attempt to determine what progress may have subsequently been made in this area of climate modeling, Chen et al. quantified and compared "the magnitude, historical trends and temporal variability in 10-m wind speeds derived from direct observations, reanalysis products and output from AOGCMs," using nine more up-to-date CMIP-5 models that are to be featured in the upcoming IPCC AR5 report.

What was learned
In the blunt but true words of the three researchers, "all models exhibit lower interannual variability than reanalysis data and observations, and none of the models reproduce the recent decline in wind speed that is manifest in the near-surface observations [italics added]."

What it means
Progress in this specific area of climate model development subsequent to the prior IPCC report could well be described as pitiful ... because there simply was no progress.

Brazdil, R., Chroma, K., Dobrovolny, P. and Tolasz, R. 2009. Climate fluctuations in the Czech Republic during the period 1961-2005. International Journal of Climatology 29: 223-22.

Fu, G., Yu, J., Zhang, Y., Hu, S., Ouyang, R. and Liu, W. 2011. Temporal variation of wind speed in China for 1961-2007. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 104: 313-324.

Jiang, Y., Luo, Y., Zhao, Z. and Tao, S. 2010. Changes in wind speed over China during 1956-2004. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 99: 421-430.

Klink, K. 1999. Trends in mean monthly maximum and minimum surface wind speeds in the coterminous United States, 1961-1990. Climate Research 13: 193-205.

McInnes, K.L., Erwin, T.A. and Bathols, J.M. 2011. Global climate model projected changes in 10-m wind speed and direction due to anthropogenic climate change. Atmospheric Science Letters 12: 325-333.

McVicar, T.R., Van Niel, T.G., Li, L.T., Roderick, M.L., Rayner, D.P., Ricciardulli, L. and Donohue, R.J. 2008. Capturing the stilling phenomenon and comparison with near-surface reanalysis output. Geophysical Research Letters 35: 10.1029/2008GL035627.

Pirazzoli, P.A. and Tomasin, A. 2003. Recent near-surface wind changes in the central Mediterranean and Adriatic areas. International Journal of Climatology 23: 963-973.

Pryor, S.C., Barthelmie, R.J., Young, D.T., Takle, E.S., Arritt, R.W., Flory, D., Gutowski Jr., W.J., Nunes, A. and Roads, J. 2009. Wind speed trends over the contiguous Unites States. Journal of Geophysical Research 114: 10.1029/2008JD011416.

Swart, N.C. and Fyfe, J.C. 2012. Ocean carbon uptake and storage influenced by wind bias in global climate models. Nature Climate Change 2: 47-52.

Tuller, S.E. 2004. Measured wind speed trends on the west coast of Canada. International Journal of Climatology 24: 1359-1374.

Reviewed 22 May 2013