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CMIP5 model performance of significant wave heights over the Indian Ocean using COWCLIP datasets

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Wind-generated surface gravity waves forms an integral part in modulating the air-sea exchange processes. Information of wave parameters is also very essential in planning marine- and coastal-related activities. It is now well recognized that wind-wave activity shows changing trends over the global ocean basins. Numerous studies have addressed the projected changes in significant wave height for the Indian Ocean (IO) region, and there is a need to conduct thorough performance evaluation of global climate models (GCMs) over this region for futuristic planning. With this motivation, the present study examined the performance of historical dynamical wave climate simulations generated under the Coordinated Ocean Wave Climate Projections (COWCLIP) experiment. The simulations utilized near-surface wind speed datasets from 8 CMIP5 (Fifth phase of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project) GCMs to force a spectral wave model. The skill level of individual GCM forced wave simulations and multi-model mean (MMM) in reproducing the significant wave height (SWH) over four different sub-domains in the IO was evaluated with reference to the ECMWF Reanalysis 5th Generation (ERA5) datasets. Several performance metrics such as the Taylor Skill, M-Score, Model Climate Performance Index (MCPI), and Model Variability Index (MVI) are employed to establish the skill level of model simulations. The study deciphers that model performance is highly reliant on the region and its characteristics. Representation of the historical wave climate over the Arabian Sea (AS) and the Bay of Bengal (BoB) regions is remarkable in the COWCLIP datasets. However, there are discrepancies noticed in SWH distribution over the South Indian Ocean (SIO) attributed to model limitations in adequately reproducing swell wave fields over that region. The MMM constructed using the best-performing models (MRI-CGCM3, ACCESS1.0, INMCM4, HadGEM2-ES, and BCC-CSM1.1) is found consistent at all the sub-domains. The study signifies that the performance evaluation of GCM forced wave simulations is crucial before employing them for practical applications. Best-performing models listed from this study can be used to establish futuristic scenarios of SWH in a changing climate for the IO region.

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The authors sincerely thank the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, for the financial support. This study was conducted under the Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Climate Change studies established at IIT Kharagpur funded by DST, Government of India. The study forms a part of the ongoing project ‘Wind-Waves and Extreme Water Level Climate Projections for the East Coast of India’. We acknowledge that the study used wave simulations developed under the Coordinated Ocean Wave Climate Project (COWCLIP) of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia. The authors thank Dr. Mark A. Hemer for providing the necessary permissions to use the data and Claire E. Trenham for helping with the details regarding the datasets. We also acknowledge Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) (2017): ERA5: Fifth generation of ECMWF atmospheric reanalyses of the global climate. Copernicus Climate Change Service Climate Data Store (CDS), accessed on 02-09-2020.!/home


The authors did not receive support from any organization for the submitted work. No funding was received to assist with the preparation of this manuscript.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by Athira Krishnan. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Athira Krishnan, and all of the authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All of the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Conceptualization: Prasad K. Bhaskaran; methodology: Prasad K. Bhaskaran and Prashant Kumar; formal analysis and investigation: Athira Krishnan, Prasad K. Bhaskaran, and Prashant Kumar; writing—original draft preparation: Athira Krishnan and Prasad K. Bhaskaran; writing—review and editing: Athira Krishnan, Prasad K. Bhaskaran, and Prashant Kumar; supervision: Prasad K. Bhaskaran

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Correspondence to Prasad K. Bhaskaran.

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Krishnan, A., Bhaskaran, P.K. & Kumar, P. CMIP5 model performance of significant wave heights over the Indian Ocean using COWCLIP datasets. Theor Appl Climatol 145, 377–392 (2021).

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