Climate Dynamics

, Volume 44, Issue 1–2, pp 559–583 | Cite as

Climate drift of AMOC, North Atlantic salinity and arctic sea ice in CFSv2 decadal predictions

  • Bohua HuangEmail author
  • Jieshun Zhu
  • Lawrence Marx
  • Xingren Wu
  • Arun Kumar
  • Zeng-Zhen Hu
  • Magdalena A. Balmaseda
  • Shaoqing Zhang
  • Jian Lu
  • Edwin K. Schneider
  • James L. Kinter III
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Climate Forecast System Version 2 (CFSv2)


There are potential advantages to extending operational seasonal forecast models to predict decadal variability but major efforts are required to assess the model fidelity for this task. In this study, we examine the North Atlantic climate simulated by the NCEP Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), using a set of ensemble decadal hindcasts and several 30-year simulations initialized from realistic ocean–atmosphere states. It is found that a substantial climate drift occurs in the first few years of the CFSv2 hindcasts, which represents a major systematic bias and may seriously affect the model’s fidelity for decadal prediction. In particular, it is noted that a major reduction of the upper ocean salinity in the northern North Atlantic weakens the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) significantly. This freshening is likely caused by the excessive freshwater transport from the Arctic Ocean and weakened subtropical water transport by the North Atlantic Current. A potential source of the excessive freshwater is the quick melting of sea ice, which also causes unrealistically thin ice cover in the Arctic Ocean. Our sensitivity experiments with adjusted sea ice albedo parameters produce a sustainable ice cover with realistic thickness distribution. It also leads to a moderate increase of the AMOC strength. This study suggests that a realistic freshwater balance, including a proper sea ice feedback, is crucial for simulating the North Atlantic climate and its variability.


Climate drift Decadal prediction Atlantic meridional overturning circulation North Atlantic salinity Arctic sea ice 



We thank Dr. J. Shukla for his support and advice on this project. We also thank Dr. S. Corti and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. The GMU/COLA scientists are supported by grants from NSF (ATM-0830068), NOAA (NA09OAR4310058), and NASA (NNX09AN50G). We acknowledge NCEP’s assistance in porting the CFSv2 code to the computing platforms at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) division. We are also grateful to ECMWF for providing the COMBINE-NEMOVAR ocean reanalysis. Computing resources respectively provided by NAS and the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bohua Huang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jieshun Zhu
    • 2
  • Lawrence Marx
    • 2
  • Xingren Wu
    • 3
  • Arun Kumar
    • 4
  • Zeng-Zhen Hu
    • 4
  • Magdalena A. Balmaseda
    • 5
  • Shaoqing Zhang
    • 6
  • Jian Lu
    • 7
  • Edwin K. Schneider
    • 1
    • 2
  • James L. Kinter III
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, College of ScienceGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere StudiesFairfaxUSA
  3. 3.Environmental Modeling CenterNational Centers for Environmental Prediction/NOAACollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Climate Prediction CenterNational Centers for Environmental Prediction/NOAACollege ParkUSA
  5. 5.European Centre for Medium-Range Weather ForecastsReadingUK
  6. 6.Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAAPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  7. 7.Pacific Northwest National LaboratoryRichlandUSA

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