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Hartung, Kerstin ORCID: 0000-0001-9211-6200; Svensson, Gunilla; Kjellström, Erik (2017): Resolution, physics and atmosphere–ocean interaction – How do they influence climate model representation of Euro-Atlantic atmospheric blocking? In: Tellus Series A - Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography, Vol. 69, No. 1, 1406252
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Abstract

Atmospheric blocking events are known to locally explain a large part of climate variability. However, despite their relevance, many current climate models still struggle to represent the observed blocking statistics. In this study, simulations of the global climate model EC-Earth are analysed with respect to atmospheric blocking. Seventeen simulations map the uncertainty space defined by the three-model characteristics: atmospheric resolution, physical parameterization and complexity of atmosphere–ocean interaction, namely an atmosphere coupled to an ocean model or forced by surface data. Representation of the real-world statistics is obtained from reanalyses ERA-20C, JRA-55 and ERA-Interim which agree on Northern Hemisphere blocking characteristics. Blocking events are detected on a central blocking latitude which is individually determined for each simulation. The frequency of blocking events tends to be underestimated relative to ERA-Interim over the Atlantic and western Eurasia in winter and overestimated during spring months. However, only few model setups show statistically significant differences compared to ERA-Interim which can be explained by the large inter-annual variability of blocking. Results indicate slightly larger biases relative to ERA-Interim in coupled than in atmosphere-only models but differences between the two are not statistically significant. Although some resolution dependence is present in spring, the signal is weak and only statistically significant if the physical parameterizations of the model are improved simultaneously. Winter blocking is relatively more sensitive to physical parameterizations, and this signal is robust in both atmosphere-only and coupled simulations, although stronger in the latter. Overall, the model can capture blocking frequency well despite biases in representing the mean state of geopotential height over this area. Blocking signatures of geopotential height are represented more similar to ERA-Interim and only weak sensitivities to model characteristics remain.