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A Portrayal of Inter-El Niño Variability in CMIP5 Climate Models

Paper Reviewed
Yun, K.-S., Yeh, S.-W. and Ha, K.-J. 2016. Inter-El Niño variability in CMIP5 models: Model deficiencies and future changes. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 121: 3894-3906.

In their recent study of historical spatiotemporal evolution among El Niño events, Yun et al. (2016) describe how they examined "the ability of models to capture inter-El Niño variability and predict future changes due to global warming using both historical and Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 simulations of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). And what did they learn by so doing?

The three South Korean scientists found that most CMIP5 models realistically reproduce the phenomenon's first mode; but on the other hand, they say that (1) "three fifths of the models fail to capture the second mode," due to (2) "considerable intermodal diversity." In addition, they report that "the leading two modes also exhibit no significant changes between the present and future climates, with respect to [3] the spatiotemporal pattern, [4] phase relationship of event-to-event variability, and [5] fractional variance." And in light of these several observations, Yun et al. conclude that (6) "better models and improved understanding of model deficiencies are scientifically important for enabling more reliable projections and predictions under a warmer climate."

Posted 21 October 2016